Missing 500-year-old painting returned to museum

21 Janvier, 2021, 11:05 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • Stolen 500-year-old painting found in Naples cupboard

The copy of Salvator Mundi, which is believed to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci, was found in a bedroom cupboard in Naples on Saturday.

Rome: A 500-year-old painting, stolen from a Naples' church museum, has been discovered in an apartment on the outskirts of the southern Italian city, police said on Tuesday.

Police found the painting in a room in an apartment in Strada Provinciale delle Brecce in Naples.

The museum collection had been closed because of coronavirus restrictions.

Late on Monday, officers said that they had arrested the owner of the apartment on suspicion of hoarding stolen goods.

In 2017, the painting became the most expensive to be ever sold, raking in over $450 million at an auction.

It is not known when the artwork was taken as no one had reported it missing, but the museum said it was in its possession as recently as last January.

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Fabbrocini said the discovery was particularly satisfying "because we resolved a case before it was created".

Police are trying to ascertain how it was stolen, said Giovanni Melillo, a Naples prosecutor.

Police did not specify when the painting was stolen, but the museum reported having the work in its possession in January of previous year when it was returned from exhibit in Rome.

"Whoever took the painting wanted it, and it is plausible that it was a commissioned theft by an organisation working in the global art trade", he added.

Video images released by police showed an empty wall inside a large niche where the artwork had been housed, in an alcove behind heavy wooden doors locked with a key.

San Domenico Maggiore, which has been the victim of thefts in the past, houses many important artworks.

The 16th century artwork is believed have been painted by Giacomo Alibrandi - a student of Leonardo da Vinci. The original painting was sold for a record $450 million (€370 million) at an auction in NY in 2017.

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