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Stolen paintings recovered in Rome

March 15, 2012

Detail from Battesimo di Cristo, by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1655), one of 37 paintings stolen in 1971 that Italian authorities recently recovered. Photograph: Italian police handout

More than four decades after being stolen, 37 of 42 paintings taken from a residence in Rome have been recovered.  The cache is worth a reported Euro 7.5 million.  A Guardian article details the theft and act of hubris/naiveté that resulted in the paintings’ recovery:

[Carabinieri Colonel Raffaele] Mancino said the trail to the stolen works – and his unit’s biggest seizure in recent years – was discovered when an officer spotted four of the paintings in an auction catalogue and cross-checked them with his database of stolen paintings. Police traced the owner – a 50-year-old woman – and found the four paintings, as well as seven others, hanging in her home.

“She and her husband bought them on the clandestine market 20 years ago and she must have known they were stolen,” he said. The woman, who decided to sell the paintings after the recent death of her husband, is now accused of receiving stolen goods.

“She forgot to mention to us she had another house outside Rome, which we checked and found another 26 stolen paintings stacked up, meaning just five are still missing,” said Mancino. “This shows we don’t give up, even after 41 years.”

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