Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stolen Italian Icon Found at Speed Museum

Very interesting piece today from the New York Times about a painted gatefold icon that was stolen in Italy in 1971. 40 years after it vanished, it turned up in a dusty back storeroom of Louisville's Speed Museum.

The Speed's not to blame, though - they acquired the piece from a reputable gallery in New York for $38,000 in 1973, just two years after it had been purloined. How it got to that gallery is a matter that is still being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security. (Seriously? Since when do they handle 1970s cold-case files of burglaries in Italy?)

According to the article:

Under a settlement negotiated by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and announced on Monday, the Speed will soon turn over the painting to Homeland Security, which will transfer it to Italian cultural authorities. (The collector who owned the painting in 1971 has since died, and the authorities will be responsible for determining who is entitled to it now.)

Before that, however, the museum will show the painting, which it has not exhibited for at least a decade, from June 9 to July 3 as part of a small exhibit that will, according to the museum’s director, Charles L. Venable, “contextualize it in a larger world of provenance research and repatriation of works of art.”

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