ROME: A painting by French post-Impressionist Paul Gaugin that was stolen in Britain in 1970 has turned up hanging in the kitchen of a retired factory worker in Sicily, Italian police said on Wednesday.
With it was a second missing painting by Pierre Bonnard, another French avant garde artist of the late 19th century, which the owner bought along with the Gaugin at an auction in 1975 for only 45,000 lire (32 dollars).The Gauguin oil-on-canvas, whose value police estimated at 13 to 40 million dollars, is very different from the colourful paintings of Tahitian native women he produced after leaving Europe for Polynesia in the 1890s.
It shows two bowls of fruit on a wooden table covered by a white tablecloth, with a small dog sleeping on the floor in the background. Signed and dated 1889, it is dedicated “to the countess N”.
The Bonnard, also signed, portrays a little girl dressed in white and sitting in what appears to be an orchard.
“These two masterpieces have unique, unimaginable stories,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini told reporters when the pilfered paintings were displayed at his ministry on Wednesday.
The two paintings were stolen from a London home and found in a train in the northern Italian city of Turin, where their smuggler apparently abandoned them because of a border control or some other check, the Carabinieri military police speculated.