Thursday, 23 May, 2019

Thieves Attempt to Steal $3.4M Painting, End up With a Fake

The Italian job: Thieves steal Bruegel masterpiece only to learn it was a copy planted by police Stolen Bruegel masterpiece was switched with fake in police sting
Julia Gonzales | 16 March, 2019, 17:27

However, unbeknownst to the thieves, the priceless painting they thought they'd stolen was actually a fake, and the whole heist was caught on camera.

Police in Castelnuovo Magra, a small town in Liguria, said they had uncovered a plot to steal the painting from Santa Maria Maddalena church - and so set a trap a month ago, according to Italian media.

Crucifixion depicts the crucifixion of Jesus Christ from above.

The Crucifixion is worth an estimated $3.3 million.

Police in Italy have been untroubled by the daring robber of a Flemish master's painting, for they have hanged a fake one a month ago.

Thieves used a hammer to break into the display case in the local church of Santa Maria Maddalena, making off with what they assumed to be the valuable artwork.

Mayor Daniele Montebello - who was in on the ruse - initially told reporters that the painting was "a work of inestimable value, a hard blow for our community".

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Police are now looking for two men who were seen removing the fake painting and driving off with it in a Peugeot auto, according to La Repubblica.

"Rumours were circulating that someone could steal the work, and so the police made a decision to put it in a safe place, replacing it with a copy and installing some cameras", Montebello told The Guardian.

Police are now investigating the surveillance footage and interviewing witnesses who were outside the church at the time of the robbery.

The 26in by 17in canvas is a copy of a work by his father.

Originally bought from Bruegel by an Italian ambassador to the Netherlands, the painting was owned for a while by a family of Italian nobles before being donated to the church in the 19th century.

During World War Two, the painting was hidden from the Nazis who famously stole hundreds of thousands of paintings during the conflict.

The country is a popular destination for art thieves, with half of the artefacts stolen in 2016 being held in churches.

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