• 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
Updated: 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.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sixty migrants 'stabbed to death by traffickers'
Sixty migrants were allegedly stabbed to death by people traffickers and thrown overboard. Militare Italiana/AFP

Sixty migrants 'stabbed to death by traffickers'

BREAKING: Italian police arrested five men on Tuesday for allegedly stabbing 60 migrants to death and throwing their bodies into the sea after a fight broke out on board a fishing boat, in what may be the worst incident of its kind so far. READ  

Man starved and beat wife to force abortion
The man allegedly abused his wife in order to terminate her two-month pregnancy. Pregnancy photo: Shutterstock

Man starved and beat wife to force abortion

A man in central Italy has been arrested after allegedly keeping his pregnant wife captive, beating and starving her in a bid to force her to have an abortion. READ  

'Captain Coward' parties as shipwreck is moved
Francesco Schettino is facing charges of manslaughter and abandoning a ship. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

'Captain Coward' parties as shipwreck is moved

The captain of Costa Concordia, which sunk off the Tuscan coast in January 2012, killing 32 people, partied on the island of Ischia on Monday night as the ship prepared to be towed away. READ  

First Italian pregnant after egg donor ban lift
Italy's ban on egg and sperm donations was lifted last month. Baby photo: Shutterstock

First Italian pregnant after egg donor ban lift

The first pregnancy by egg donation in Italy has been announced, described as a "moment of great emotion", just weeks after a ban on the fertility treatment was lifted by the country's constitutional court. READ  

Italy clamps down on Google over data use
Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/AFP

Italy clamps down on Google over data use

Italy has told tech giant Google to change the way it treats and stores users’ private data within 18 months as part of a Europe-wide bid to crackdown on privacy violations. READ  

VIDEO
Italian prime minister's bad English goes viral
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has been trying to improve his English. Screenshot: ChristianIce/YouTube

Italian prime minister's bad English goes viral

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is facing an upward struggle to master the English language skills after videos mocking his latest efforts clocking up more than two million YouTube hits. READ  

Rome's slum dwellers demand proper homes
Around 5,000 people live in government-run camps in Rome. Photo: Rosie Scammell

Rome's slum dwellers demand proper homes

Amid the wealth of Rome, 5,000 people, many of them Italians, are forced to live in rat-infested slums, denied proper social housing by the state. Rosie Scammell visits the Roma camps of Italy's capital. READ  

Pisa goes viral with Will Smith selfie
Will smith (photo: US Navy/Flickr) and the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Photo: Tammy Lo/Flickr)

Pisa goes viral with Will Smith selfie

Who needs a huge marketing budget when you've got celebrities promoting Italy's cultural wonders with selfies? American actor Will Smith has sent Pisa's Leaning Tower viral. READ  

Analysis
Berlusconi tries to revive flagging political career
Silvio Berlusconi's acquittal in a high-profile sex-for-hire has made him more determined to revive his political career. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Berlusconi tries to revive flagging political career

Silvio Berlusconi's acquittal in a high-profile sex-for-hire case has boosted the former Italian prime minister's determination to revive his political career, despite his growing isolation in the corridors of power. READ  

Couple sue Bank of Italy over 'worthless' 40m lire
The conversion of the Italian Lire was phased out at the end of 2011. Bankn

Couple sue Bank of Italy over 'worthless' 40m lire

An Italian couple told The Local they are suing the country's central bank after it refused to let them exchange millions of lire in banknotes found in the home they were renovating. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Top 10 foreign films made in Italy
International
Ukraine tragedy hits Mogherini's EU hopes
National
'Life in Italy is not how I thought it would be'
Politics
Critics scramble to block Mogherini from EU job
National
'Italy's ginger gene spread from Sicily'
National
'Refugees can contribute positively to Italy'
Society
Hospital to obese patient: Go to a vet instead
Politics
Italy backs controversial Russian gas pipeline
Culture
Ten things tweeters love about Italy
Society
Italy: no place for pets?
Opinion
Why doctors in Italy refuse to give abortions
National
Italy's centre-right leader open to gay unions
National
Top ten reasons Italians hate summer
Politics
Italy under fire over its huge debt
National
Americans taught how to 'rap' Italian gestures
National
How does Italy compare to its EU neighbours?
International
The Italian explorer training astronauts
Travel
Top ten: Italy's gay-friendly holiday hotspots
National
1,900 children languish in Italy's adoption system
Sport
Suarez banned after taking bite out of Italy
Politics
'Europe is without soul': Matteo Renzi
National
Italy battles crescendo of corruption scandals
Society
'Cohabitation is worse sin than murder': priest
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

509
jobs available