Van Goghs found in mobster’s house
AMSTERDAM: Two stolen Vincent van Gogh paintings worth millions of euros have been found in an Italian country house belonging to an alleged Mafia drug smuggler, 14 years after they were stolen.
Italian investigators displayed the recovered artworks, a sea scene and a church where the painter’s father was minister, to reporters in Naples, saying each was worth an estimated 50 million (R772m).
“It is a great day for us today to see the works and to know that they are safe and that they are in safe hands,” said Axel Ruger, director of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh museum.
He was present when the paintings were shown to reporters.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi informed his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte, about the police operation before yesterday’s funeral in Jerusalem of former Israeli leader Shimon Peres, a source in Renzi’s office says.
The paintings were found wrapped in cloth inside a safe in a country house south of Naples that prosecutors said belonged to Raffaele Imperiale, a 41-year-old businessman accused in January of running an international cocaine trafficking ring together with high-ranking mobsters from a clan made famous in the 2008 film Gomorrah.
Imperiale is a fugitive and Italian investigators suspect he is living and running a construction business in Dubai. – Reuters