The two pictures represent the physically largest recoveries of the Art Loss Register’s 25-year history.
“The fact that both the paintings were so large and were not removed from their frames, rolled or concealed as they crossed borders is quite surprising,” Katya Hills of the ALR told ATG.
The (ALR) matched the works, which were being kept in a Hatton Garden storage vault, with the records of the Italian Carabinieri after a private owner requested a search of the ALR database in 2014.
“We are thrilled to have been able to locate these two major works and that our joint effort with the Carabinieri to secure their repatriation to Italy has been concluded with such success,” Katya Hills of the ALR told ATG.
The paintings were transported from their previous owner’s London storage vault and returned to Italy during the last week of May.
Both paintings were completed during the early 17th century. Battalglia, by Italian baroque painter Aniello Falcone (1607-1656), measures 1.5 x 2m. According to the Carabinieri it is estimated to be worth €80,000-150,000.
Concerto a Quattro personaggi ed un bevitore, attributed to the workshop of French tenebrist painter Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632), is slightly smaller and is valued at €10,000-30,000.
Both works were stolen in Rome in 1994, one from the home of Senator and Prime Minister of the Italian State (1970-1972) Emilio Colombo, the other from the office of an accountant.
The paintings were damaged during the theft and are currently understood to be undergoing relining and restoration. Concerto has come away from its frame and both have crumbling paint at the sides.
Following restoration, each will be returned to its original owner.
The owner who requested the ALR search surrendered the pictures and relinquished all rights to the works. He has not been linked with the theft.