• Italy edition
 
Stolen Gauguin hung 40 years on Fiat man's wall
Paintings by French artists Paul Gauguin, pictured, and Pierre Bonnard, which were stolen in the UK in the 1970s, have been found in Italy. Photo: Wikipedia

Stolen Gauguin hung 40 years on Fiat man's wall

Published: 02 Apr 2014 14:30 GMT+02:00

Gauguin's "Fruit on a table or small dog" and Bonnard's "Woman with two chairs," which were stolen from a family house in the British capital, were recovered from an Italian factory worker who had hung them in his kitchen for almost 40 years.

The Gauguin painting is worth between €10 and €30 million ($13 and $41 million) while the Bonnard is valued at some €600,000, Italy's heritage police said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The paintings turned up in a lost property department at a train station and were sold at auction in 1975 to a worker at a Fiat factory, who bought them for 45,000 Italian lire, or €23. He hung them on the wall of his kitchen.

"It's an incredible story, an amazing recovery. A symbol of all the work which Italian art police have put in over the years behind the scenes," Italy's Culture Minister Dario Franceschini told journalists.

The paintings were found last month after a lengthy investigation, which began when police received a tip off that they may have been stolen.

Investigators trawled through back catalogues of exhibitions from the time of the theft, from which the 1889 Gauguin mysteriously disappeared after it was stolen.

They then used newspaper reports about the 1970s theft in The New York Times and a Singaporean paper to trace the paintings back to the London-based family.

"The two paintings were presumably left on a train from Paris to Turin," said Mariano Mossa, who heads up the heritage police.

"They were bought by an art-loving worker, who hung them for 40 years in his kitchen, first in Turin then in Sicily, after he retired," he said.

Italy opened a special department to investigate art thefts in 1969, the first in the world, which is situated in a Baroque palace in the centre of Rome's bustling tourist centre.

The heritage police manages the largest data bank on stolen art in the world, with details on some 5.7 million objects.

Last year they found a painting by Russian-born Jewish artist Marc Chagall, "Le Nu au Bouquet," in a private collector's home in Bologna that had been stolen from a US tycoon's yacht in Italy in 2002.

They also investigated the theft of possibly thousands of rare books from the Girolamini Library in Naples, which were allegedly smuggled out and sold internationally by its former director.

Mossa said in January that "the turnover generated by the illegal sale of works of art comes fourth on a world level behind the sale of weapons, drugs and financial products."

Don't miss a story about Italy - Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Russian fined €20,000 for defacing Colosseum
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Russian fined €20,000 for defacing Colosseum

A Russian tourist caught red-handed trying to carve his initials on a wall of Rome's Colosseum has been ordered to pay a fine of €20,000 ($24,700) READ  

Nearly 800 migrants rescued off Italy
Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AFP

Nearly 800 migrants rescued off Italy

A total 796 people were rescued from boats in distress in the Mediterranean in the last 48 hours, Italian and Libyan officials said Saturday, as unprecedented numbers of would be immigrants head for Italy's shores. READ  

Russian tourist 'carved letter K on Colosseum'
Reckless tourists defacing Italy’s priceless monuments have become something of an occupational hazard for authorities. Photo: Aaron Logan

Russian tourist 'carved letter K on Colosseum'

A Russian tourist has been arrested for allegedly carving the letter K on a wall of the Colosseum. READ  

Italy's winemakers plan to defy EU label law
Italian winemakers are planning to defy a new European law demanding they exclude their wine’s particular geographic origins from the label. Photo: Fivi

Italy's winemakers plan to defy EU label law

Italian winemakers are planning to defy a new European law demanding they exclude their wine’s particular geographic origins from the label, arguing that the move will heavily impact businesses already struggling to survive. READ  

Venice denies 'noisy suitcase' ban for tourists
Venice has absolutely no plans to fine tourists for wheeling 'noisy' suitcases around the city. Venice suitcase photo: Shutterstock

Venice denies 'noisy suitcase' ban for tourists

Venice has absolutely no plans to fine tourists hundreds of euros for wheeling their luggage through the popular tourist city, the city’s special commissioner said on Friday. READ  

Doctors given lavish gifts in baby milk scam
The doctors allegedly accepted lavish gifts in return for encouraging new mothers to buy artificial milk instead of breast feeding. Powdered milk photo: Shutterst

Doctors given lavish gifts in baby milk scam

A dozen pediatricians in Italy allegedly accepted expensive gifts, including smartphones, computers and Mediterranean cruises, in return for encouraging new mothers to buy artificial milk instead of breast feeding. READ  

First Italian woman prepares for space
Samantha Cristoforetti will head to space on November 23rd. Phot: AFP

First Italian woman prepares for space

The first Italian female astronaut to be launched into outer space said she is about to fulfill her dream. READ  

Business and Money
Italy's property market bucks recession
Property sales in Rome were up 11.8 percent in the third quarter. Photo: Rome property photo: Shutterstock

Italy's property market bucks recession

The Italian property market received a boost in sales in the third quarter of 2014, the country’s revenue agency said on Thursday. READ  

Sport
Crisis-hit Italian football set for reforms in 2016
National team coach Antonio Conte complained the archetypal Italian player who could once strike fear into opponents is now "dying out". Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP

Crisis-hit Italian football set for reforms in 2016

Serie A chiefs have welcomed a new package of reforms by the Italian football federation (FIGC) that will see squads limited to 25 players in a move designed to boost the flagging Italian game. READ  

Culture
Cameron Diaz flick rips off Italian novel: author
Actress Cameron Diaz at a screening of 'The Other Woman'. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images North America/AFP

Cameron Diaz flick rips off Italian novel: author

An Italian writer has accused American film giant 20th Century Fox of plagiarising one of his novels in the 2014 film "The Other Woman", starring Cameron Diaz, his lawyer said on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Top ten: Italy's weirdest place names
National
Mafia 'cashes in' on Sicily's migrant influx
National
Dozens of foreigners vie for €1 homes in Sicily
International
Italy: Crimean Russians won't get visas from us
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
National
Wild bears spark fear in Italy's north
National
Italy's immigration crisis moves to the streets
Sponsored Article
Ever wanted to try out home exchange?
Society
Italy under pressure over Roma camps squalor
International
VIDEO: Greenpeace activist injured in Canary Islands oil clash
Vatican
Topless feminists target 'political' Pope
Education
Italy's 'rigid' education system stifles job market
Education
Italians speak better English than the French
Education
How Turin is defying Italian austerity
Travel
Top ten: great late autumn escapes in Italy
National
Quake experts cleared in 'science on trial' case
Culture
10 things you should never say to an Italian
Travel
Italy tops world favourite destination list
Gallery
Top 10: The best Italian proverbs
Opinion
Why foreigners in Italy are happier than Italians
Opinion
'Forget the baby bonus, we need investment'
National
UN fears for migrants as Italy ends rescue mission
Politics
Quiz: How well do you know Italian politics?
Culture
Ten Rome baristas who brighten your day
Business & Money
Italy bows to EU pressure over budget
Travel
Ten of the best students bars in Rome
National
'Italy is the real sick man of Europe'
Society
Semi-clad tourists dance in priceless fountain
National
Singing nun picks Like a Virgin for debut album
National
Where's the best place to live in Italy?
National
Amorous Italian couple get stuck in frolic at sea
Culture
Test your Italian history with The Local's quiz
Travel
Top ten: Travel warnings for Italy
International
Revealed: The cost of home comforts in Italy
Health
Nurse 'killed 38 patients for being annoying'
Culture
Breaking Balsamic: See US writer's potent parody
Opinion
Is Italy a desirable place for foreigners to work?
Culture
Top ten: Things Italian mothers say
Society
Mayors vow to defy gay marriage registration ban
Travel
How well do you know Italy's geography?
National
Ten Italian 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
Italian student tipped to win British X-Factor
Business & Money
Italy ranked ninth most desirable place to work
Education
Why Milan uni's English switch opened minds
National
The small Sicilian town with nine centenarians
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

507
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists
Click here for the full job description