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Leonardo da Vinci copy handed back to museum that didn’t know it had been stolen

Monitoring Desk

The Italian museum where the oil painting belonged was not aware of the theft. The artwork is believed have been painted by Giacomo Alibrandi — a student of Leonardo da Vinci.

A 500-year-old oil painting, stolen from a museum in Naples, has been retrieved from an apartment on the edge of Naples, police said Tuesday.

Staff at the San Domenico Maggiore museum were not even aware that the portrait of Christ was missing as it has been closed since the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak hit Italy in the autumn of last year.

The 16th century artwork is believed have been painted by Giacomo Alibrandi — a student of Leonardo da Vinci.

Drawing conclusions

Police said a tip off led them to the apartment on the outskirts of the southern Italian city at the weekend. The officers found the picture hidden in a bedroom cupboard. The 36-year-old owner of the apartment has been detained on suspicion of receiving stolen goods.

Police said it was a “particularly complex operation” to locate the portrait. However, it was discovered thanks to “brilliant and diligent” police work, according to Naples prosecutor Giovanni Melillo.

“There was no complaint on the matter and in fact we contacted the (church museum) prior, which was not aware of its disappearance, as the room where the painting is kept has not been open for three months” due to the coronavirus pandemic, Melillo said.

The portrait is a copy of the famous Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World), attributed to Leonardo da Vinci himself. The original painting was sold for a record $450 million (€370 million) at an auction in New York in 2017.

Courtesy: DW