An Italian conservator found a way to steal old master works, sell them and not have to face any penalty thanks to the statute of limitations. The Art Newspaper reports that the Italian Carabinieri have recovered works that were sent out from a Pisa museum to a conservator a dozen years ago then promptly forgotten until just last December:
According to an official statement released by the police on Friday, the conservator, who was accredited by the superintendency of Pisa, sold six of the paintings on to dealers who were unaware of their provenance. He can no longer be prosecuted under Italian law, however, since the ten-year statute of limitation passed without the loss of the works being reported.
Isabella Lapi, the regional director of the Italian culture ministry, told La Stampa that the case was “totally anomalous”. “Restorations today are contracted almost exclusively within museums or to laboratories directly linked to the public system,” she said.
The recovered paintings, including Madonna in Sorrow by the Flemish artist Quentin Metsys that had been sold at auction for €2.8m, are to go on display at the museum this week. Investigators have started procedures to recover the two outstanding works from a private collector in France.
Better late than never (The Art Newspaper)