• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Stolen Gauguin hung 40 years on Fiat man's wall

AFP · 2 Apr 2014, 14:30

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.

Story continues below…

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
Euro 2016
Motta and De Rossi get nod for Italy in Euro 2016
Daniele De Rossi has made the Italy squad for Euro 2016. Photo: Marcello Paternostro/AFP

"The choices are made, we reflected a great deal and picked the best at our disposal."

Italy court upholds 16-year jail term for Concordia captain
Florence's appeals court on Tuesday upheld the 16-year jail term for Francesco Schettino. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Florence's appeals court on Tuesday upheld the 16-year jail term for Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that sank off Italy in 2012 leaving 32 people dead.

What's on
Seven wonderful things to do in Italy in June
Pisa's luminara is not to be missed this month. Photo: Marco Sox/Flickr

Stuck for things to do in Italy this June? Then look no further...

Refugee crisis
At least 1,000 feared dead in nine migrant boat wrecks
An image of a migrant boat wreck taking by the Italian navy last week. Photo: Marina Militare

At least 1,000 people are thought to have drowned or are missing in nine migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean over the last six days, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday.

Ten Airbnb apartments where you'll feel at home in Rome
Photo: Moyann Brenn

Our pick of the best apartments to spend your Rome vacation.

Panic as three earthquakes strike Umbria
Schools in the Umbrian town of Orvieto were closed on Tuesday after strong tremors were felt. Photo: Yaniv Ben-Arie

An earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale struck the central Italian region of Umbria on Monday night, and was followed by two smaller quakes this morning, creating panic among residents and closing schools in the hilltop town of Orvieto.

Video
Fourteen people injured in Turin paints factory explosion
Fourteen people were injured in a fire at a paint factory on Monday night. Photo: YouReporter

Fourteen people, seven of them firefighters, were injured in an explosion which also completely destroyed a paints factory near Turin on Monday night.

Disgraced Concordia captain awaits appeal verdict
Francesco Schettino during his first instance trial last year. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

An appeals court in Florence will make a decision later today.

Italian admits burning his ex alive 'because she left him'
Rome Flying Squad chief Luigi Silipo and prosecutor Maria Monteleone during a press conference on Monday. Screengrab: RepTV/La Repubblica

A 27-year-old man has admitted to burning his ex-girlfriend alive because he “couldn’t accept that she abandoned him”.

Refugee crisis
No longer just a job: the unlikely crew saving lives
Antoine Laurent, one of the merchant seamen aboard MS Aquarius. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

They are unlikely members of the same crew: career seamen for whom it was initially just another job and landlubber humanitarian workers trying to make the world a better place.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Politics
Quiz: Silvio Berlusconi versus Donald Trump - who said it?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Crew who sunk with WWII sub 'wanted to be found': relative
Culture
Why the average ancient Roman worker was dead by 30
Did a Nazi official save Ponte Vecchio from destruction?
National
How the brutal murder of an anti-mafia hero altered Sicily
Travel
These are the best beaches within easy reach of Rome
National
Why Italians are falling out of love with the EU
Business & Money
Foreign, female and a self-made success in arduous Italy
National
How Italy's richest region is feeling the migrant strain
Culture
Rome mulls 'metro museum' after new line unearths ruin
National
Why Italy's facing a birth rate apocalypse
National
Why talk of barriers is opening up old wounds in South Tyrol
Culture
Huge Roman villa found under Amalfi church set to open
Travel
Two men kicked off plane in what captain calls 'racist act'
Meet the expats making a career out of Italian food
Society
'Staying single is why I'm the world's oldest person'
Travel
Where can you find the best beaches in Italy?
The ultimate guide to the insanity of driving in Italy
Travel
Eight of Rome's most tantalizing foreign food gems
Migrant arrivals in Italy top 30,000 for 2016: navy
Italy’s deadliest earthquakes over the last 100 years
2,524
jobs available