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Art stolen from prince by Nazis turns up in Italian home

Three fifteenth-century paintings which were stolen from the Prince of Luxembourg's Tuscan villa by Nazi forces in 1944 have been found in Italy.

Art stolen from prince by Nazis turns up in Italian home
Italian police have found three Renaissance masterpieces stolen by Nazis during WWII. Photo: Caribinieri

The paintings were smuggled out of Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma's plush villa in Camaiore, a city within Lucca province, and subsequently taken to Dornsburg castle in north-eastern Bolzano, where the head of the SS in Italy, General Karl Wolff, had set up his headquarters.

Felix, the son of the deposed Duke of Parma, married Luxembourg's monarch, the Grand Duchess Charlotte in 1919. 

During the war, Allied soldiers even raided the castle, filled with stolen art, in order to recapture some of the works – events which formed the basis for George Clooney's 2014 film 'Monuments Men'.

The prince's stolen paintings were never found, with the Italian state compensating him in 1945 for the value of the stolen pieces after he filed a post-war damages claim against the government.

But in December 2014, the first of the three paintings – a portrait of the Madonna and child by Renaissance painter Gianni Battista Cima – was found by police in the Monza home of a Milan-based family.

The painting, found among the family's collection during a routine investigation into art documentation, was said to have been inherited from a deceased art-dealing relative, but it is not known how the painting come into the relative's possession. 


The stolen picture of the Madonna and child, by Gianni Battista Cima. Photo: Caribinieri

During subsequent investigations, two more stolen artworks came to light: a tempera on wood panel showing the Holy Trinity by early Renaissance painter Alessio Baldovinetti and a painting showing Jesus at the temple by Girolamo dai Libri.

The paintings were seized by police and have now been entrusted to the Brera Art Gallery in Milan, where they were presented to the press on Monday.

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POLICE

Runner dies in Italy-to-France ultra marathon

A runner taking part in an ultra-marathon in the Alps has died during the race after a fatal fall on a high-altitude mountain path, emergency services told AFP on Wednesday.

Runner dies in Italy-to-France ultra marathon
The race traverses Mont Blanc. Illustration photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

The 35-year-old from the Czech Republic was taking part in a warm-up event ahead of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a famed endurance event that takes place every year around western Europe’s highest peak.

The man fell during the night after setting off with more than 1,000 other runners from the Italian ski resort of Courmayeur on Tuesday afternoon along the 145-kilometre course of the TDS race to Chamonix in France.

Emergency services were alerted after midnight on Wednesday and flew in a helicopter to the scene of the accident in the Bourg-Saint-Maurice district, but they were unable to revive him, local police commander Patrice Ribes told AFP.

Organisers of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, which takes places on Friday, said it was the first death in one of their events since their start in 2003.

Elsewhere in the French Alps on Wednesday, a 60-year-old climber died in the Isère region after suffering a fall of 30 metres.

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