Old Master Paintings Stolen Decades Ago Are Found in London Vault

The bad news: the paintings are 'severely damaged.'

Concert with four people and a drinker is attributed to the workshop of Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632). Imae: Courtesy of The Art Loss Register, London.
Aniello Falcone, Battle Scene. Image: Courtesy of The Art Loss Register, London.

Aniello Falcone, Battle Scene. Image: Courtesy of The Art Loss Register, London.

More than two decades after two 17th-century Old Master paintings were stolen from separate locations in Rome, London’s Art Loss Register (ALR) located and recovered the work in London.

According to the statement from ALR, the paintings were stolen in 1994: one from the former Senator and Prime Minister of the Italian state, Emilio Colombo; and the other from the office of an accountant.

It was not until December 2014, that “a private individual” searched both paintings against the ALR database and made a positive match. The ALR’s research revealed that the paintings corresponded to two thefts that had been reported to the carabinieri in Rome.

Concert with four people and a drinker is attributed to the workshop of Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632). Imae: Courtesy of The Art Loss Register, London.

Concert with four people and a drinker is attributed to the workshop of Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632). Image: Courtesy of The Art Loss Register, London.

The works in question are a 17th-century Battaglia (Battle Scene)  by Italian Baroque painter Aniello Falcone (1607-1656), a 5-x-6 foot work that is estimated to be worth up to $170,000. (The record at auction for a work by Falcone is just under $100,000, according to the artnet Price Database).

The second painting is the slightly smaller work, Concerto a quattro personaggo ed un bevitore (Concert with four people and a drinker), that is attributed to the workshop of Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632), a French artist who worked in the tenebrist style, which is characterized by deep shadows and a distinct contrast between light and dark areas.

Illustrating the disparity in price between a fully attributed work by de Boulogne and one described only as “workshop of” or “follower of,” a confirmed work by the artist captured $5.2 million at Sotheby’s this past January when it was auctioned as part of the collection of A. Alfred Taubman.

ALR researchers tracked the works to a storage vault nearby its own London headquarters and informed the current owner, who reportedly had no clue that the paintings were stolen, and subsequently surrendered the picture to authorities.

The works were shipped back to Italy, late last month. However, the size and condition of the paintings made the transfer a tricky affair, and the works will have to be relined and restored before being returned to their rightful owners since the original canvases were reportedly “severely damaged” during the theft.


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