Stolen Francis Bacon Painting Worth $5.4 million Recovered by Spanish Police

The portrait depicts banker José Capelo, a man Bacon was 'infatuated' with.

A portrait of the Spanish banker José Capelo by the aritst Francis Bacon has been recovered by the Policía Nacional. Photo courtesy of Policía Nacional

A painting by Francis Bacon that was stolen from the home of Spanish banker, the subject of the portrait, has been recovered by police in Madrid.

The portrait of the banker, José Capelo—who was friends with the artist—was taken with four other works collectively worth over $27 million during a 2015 heist, the Policía Nacional said in a statement. A safe with jewels and valuable coins was also taken at the time. Three works were recovered in 2017 and the last missing painting is yet to be found.

“The investigations led to the arrest in Madrid last February of two people responsible for the crime of receiving the two paintings stolen from the artist,” police said. After those arrests, police were able to find one of the two missing paintings: the Capelo portrait.

Since the investigation began, police have arrested 16 people allegedly involved in the theft, including those who planned it. The investigation remains open to locate the last remaining painting. Police said they are investigating Spanish citizens who maintain relations with organized groups from Eastern Europe.

Besides the portrait, Bacon also once gave $4 million to Capelo, revealed by the Sunday Times of London in 2014, citing a tape recording of the artist. In it, Bacon talks with close friend Barry Joule and said he gave his sister the same amount he gave to Capelo.

The revered but controversial artist, who was 78 at the time, met the banker, who was then in his early 30s, at a dinner party for choreographer Frederick Ashton in 1988.

Bacon, who was gay, became “infatuated” with Capelo, people close with him told the Sunday Times. It is believed Bacon was in Madrid “chasing the unattainable” Capelo when he died of a heart attack in 1992.

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