“The paintings have been found! Axel Rüger, director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, exclaimed in a statement last fall.
Fourteen years after their theft, two landscape paintings by the iconic Dutch artist found in Italy in 2016 will be briefly exhibited in Naples. From February 6, the National Museum of Capodimonte will host the three-week exhibition, featuring two paintings by Van Gogh in the room next to that of Caravaggio Flagellation of Christ, before their return to the Amsterdam museum.
Their recovery was first announced by Giovanni Colangelo, Naples’ chief anti-mafia prosecutor last September, following a major organized crime investigation by a special team from the Italian prosecutor’s office, the official said. Museum.
According to New York Times, the Italian prosecutor’s office said the works were discovered while investigating the Amato Pagano clan of the Camorra mafia family, which is associated with international cocaine trafficking.
Last January, they arrested several family members and suspected associates who were part of a drug ring, with contacts in Spain and the Netherlands, Colangelo told the Time.
One morning in early December 2002, before the museum opened, burglars used a ladder to gain access to the museum, then broke through a window and seized the most prized works.
One of the members arrested last January reportedly told police that the two paintings were in a house in the town of Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples. The house had at one time been occupied by Raffaele Imperiale, a businessman with alleged ties to the Amato Pagano clan.
An official who worked on the case said the paintings were found wrapped in a rag in a small hallway near a kitchen. Investigators had tried to determine when the group obtained the paintings and when they were transferred to Italy.
According to an article by the Association for Research Into Crimes Against Art, the seascape “is considered one of Van Gogh’s finest masterpieces”.
According to a statement from the Van Gogh Museum: “Both works appear to be in fairly good condition after their 14-year journey, although they are both missing their frames and show some signs of damage.”
Museum director Rüger said: “We are especially grateful to the Italian authorities for achieving something that we almost thought would never happen. We look forward to returning the two lost works to our museum’s collection.
The National Museum of Capodimonte did not respond to artnet News’ request for comment.
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