Officials said the artwork had been offered to buyers and that authorities had had to work quickly to seize it before it was sold. They said they had tracked down the trove of pictures using phone interceptions, following an investigative TV programme that was broadcast last weekend.
Parma Prosecutor Gerardo Laguardia, speaking on Italy’s Sky TG24 TV, said: “We got lucky. We learned that there were negotiations under way to sell one of the paintings”. Some of the phone calls involved discussions about selling some art to a Russian billionaire, Italy’s Ansa news agency reported. Monet’s Cliff Walk at Pourville was about to be sold for 10m euros ($14.8m; £9m), Ansa added.
Among the pictures seized were a drawing of a ballerina by Degas, a tree trunk by Van Gogh, a Picasso still life, and a self-portrait by Antonio Ligabue. […] The 19 paintings and drawings, including works by Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh, are worth more than 100m euros (£90m), financial police said.
Parmalat Founder Calisto Tanzi’s Art Seized (BBC News)