Italian police recover stolen Renoir, arrest 3
ANSA) - Rome, September 26 -
Italian art police have recovered a painting by Impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir stolen from a private collection in Milan in 1975.
The owner of an art gallery in Riccione and two suspected accomplices were arrested after they contacted prominent art critic Vittorio Sgarbi for an appraisal.
Sgarbi suspected the painting might have been stolen and called the police.
The small oil painting of a naked woman with her back to the viewer has a reported commercial value of some 500,000 euros ($730,000).
It is a late Renoir which is not listed in the artist's official catalogue.
Police said the painting was stolen from a Milanese family after the owner, who has since died, took it to a laboratory to be restored.
The owner's daughter recognised it from the mark of a ball she accidentally hit it with in the early 1970s.
Police said it would probably be returned to the family.
Sgarbi was also asked for his opinion on a second Impressionist painting, which turned out to be a forgery of a work by Eduard Manet.The fake Manet will be confiscated, police said.
photo: art critic Vittorio Sgarbi
Art Hostage comments:
Something does not add up here.
First, under Italian law if this painting had been bought through an auction house the person buying it would get legal title, so perhaps that would be the ruse and it may take a court case to decide if the Renoir should go back to the original owner.
My guess is the Old bird, the 68 year old woman art gallery owner was trying to cash it in.
However, the art critic could be in on the act and now will try and claim a reward for his efforts ??
Sgarbi suspected the Renoir had been stolen and called the police, some memory this Sgarbi has.
Funny thing is, you wait thirty years to find an honest person in the art trade, and then several come along at once, yeah right !!!
This case is far from cut and dried and we may find out later this was a case of double cross.
Next we may hear this Sgarbi has got one in the back of the head if no money is forthcoming.