Friday, 30 September 2016

Stolen Van Gogh paintings found in anti-mafia raid in Italy!

Italian police have recovered two Van Gogh paintings stolen in 2002 during a dramatic raid on an Amsterdam museum.
The works were recovered from the Naples mafia, they said.
The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam said the works were found during a "massive, continuing investigation" by Italian prosecutors and organised crime officials.
The paintings were taken when thieves used a ladder and sledgehammers to break into the museum.
They were eventually found wrapped in cloth in a safe in a house in the picturesque seaside town of Castellammare di Stabia, near Pompeii.
The works were among assets worth millions of euros seized from a Camorra organised crime group linked to cocaine trafficking, Italian reports said.
Months earlier, police had arrested several suspected drug traffickers who had invested their proceeds in Dubai, Spain and the Isle of Man. They were reportedly linked to one of the biggest mafia clans in the Scampia area of northern Naples.
Among those arrested in January were suspected drugs gang leader Raffaele Imperiale and Mario Cerrone. It was Mr Cerrone who apparently told investigators about the two paintings.
The theft of the two works, valued by investigators at $100m (£77m; €89m), led to criticism of security at the world's major art museums.
The thieves broke into the museum through the roof during the night of 6-7 December 2002 and used sledgehammers to break a first-floor window.
They took the paintings off the walls of the main exhibition hall. Experts were baffled at the time of the theft because guards had been on patrol and infra-red security systems were in place.
Neither work was insured at the time, and both were on loan to the Van Gogh museum from the Dutch government. Two Dutch citizens were jailed for theft but always maintained their innocence.
The museum said it was so far unclear when the works would be returned to Amsterdam but in a statement it said they appeared to be in "relatively good condition".
Dutch and Italian ministers were overjoyed by the news, and praised Italian investigators.

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