Mafia raid uncovers stolen Van Gogh paintings

  • 01/10/2016
Mafia raid uncovers stolen Van Gogh paintings

Police have found two Vincent Van Gogh paintings that have been missing for 14 years.

The paintings were stolen from an Amsterdam museum and recovered during a raid on Italian mobsters.

"They're authentic," prosecutor Giovanni Colangelo told the gathered media, as Italian police held tight to the paintings.

The police have found some details that only the original paintings had. Identifying marks include grains of sand that were blown up from the beach as Van Gogh painted 'Seascape at Scheveningen' - one of his first major works.

The other painting, 'Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen', was of the church in the Netherlands where his father was a pastor. Both works are together valued at more than NZ$124 million.

The paintings were stolen in an audacious raid on Amsterdam's Van Gogh museum in 2002. The thieves used a ladder to access the museum's roof, and escaped using a rope.

Two men were later convicted, but the paintings remained hidden - until now.

They were found after police raided a Mafia hideout complete with gym and secret room during an investigation into organised crime gangs in Naples.

The paintings had had their frames removed, but were otherwise in good condition.

Van Gogh's works are highly desirable amongst collectors. At London's court his paintings take pride of place. However, in the criminal world they are an invaluable bargaining tool.

For now they are only being exhibited for the media and police. But soon the paintings they thought were lost for good will return to their home in Amsterdam.

ITV News