Tintoretto’s “Samson” recovered by Ukrainian border guards (screenshot via YouTube)

After six months, 17 Old Master paintings stolen from Verona’s Museo di Castelvecchio have turned up on an island in Ukraine. The trove, valued at over €16 million (~$18.3 million), according to Reuters, includes works by Jacopo Tintoretto, Peter Paul Rubens, and Mantegna. Border guards found them last week in a forest near the Moldovan border; they’d been buried underneath a pile of leaves, bundled individually in plastic bags and floral fabrics.

The Ukrainian president’s office has released remarkable footage of the discovery. The video shows armed guards unwrapping the pieces, which appear to be unscathed. We get a glimpse of Pisanello’s “Madonna of the Quail” (c. 1420), Rubens’s “Lady of Licnidi,” (1602), and two portraits by Giovanni Francesco Caroto, among others. The museum has images of all 17 works online.

YouTube video

In November, three masked men dressed in black staged a dramatic heist at the Museo di Castelvecchio, tying up and gagging a security guard and another employee before making off with the pieces in the guard’s own car. In March, Italian officials arrested 12 people in connection with the heist, a number of whom are Moldovan citizens: five were arrested in Moldova and seven in Italy, according to the New York Times.

Italian experts will now authenticate the paintings before they return home. The Castelvecchio Museum has already placed labels that read “FOUND” in Italian over displayed reproductions of the stolen works, as well as celebrated with balloons individually inked with the artists’ names.

h/t The Art Newspaper

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...

3 replies on “Old Master Paintings Snatched from Verona Turn Up in a Forest in Ukraine”

  1. Why are they opening them in the forest!?!? After the first one, they should have just picked them all up and moved them somewhere. It seems to me….

  2. Something does not site right with this story. Why are the leaves so green as if they were just placed there. Very strange.

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