Friday, 30 September 2016

Stolen Van Gogh paintings recovered

Italian police have found two Van Gogh paintings that were stolen from an Amsterdam museum in 2002 hidden in a farmhouse near an organized crime syndicate's Naples-area stronghold. The paintings, discovered without their frames, are in "relatively good condition," the Van Gogh Museum said in a statement on its website. It said the two paintings are the 1882 work "Seascape at Scheveningen" and a later work, "Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen."

The paintings, found covered in cotton cloth in the farmhouse near Castellammare di Stabia, are part of an investigation of whether gangsters from the Camorra crime syndicate were behind the theft.

"Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen."
When renowned masterpieces are stolen, a theft commissioned by a private collector who has already agreed to buy them is usually suspected, since it would be virtually impossible to sell them in the legitimate art market. With "enormous profits" from drug trafficking, the Camorra are looking for new ways to invest their ill-gained wealth, which might include stolen artworks.

Investigators seized some 20 million euros ($22 million) worth of assets, including farmland, villas and apartments, which they say are linked to two Camorra drug kingpins, Mario Cerrone and Raffaele Imperiale.