Three Paintings Stolen from Italian Castle

It's the country's second major art theft in two weeks.

How hard is it to steal from an Italian fortress? Apparently, not very. Three paintings by an unnamed artist from the 15th century were taken from Milan’s Sforza Castle over the weekend, La Republica reports. A guard is said to have noticed that the works were missing on Saturday at around 3:00 pm. Police were notified some five hours later, around 8:00 pm.

The museum valued the paintings at €25,000 ($33,000) in total, making them a far less devastating loss than the large Guercino painting that was taken from the San Vincenzo church in Modena on August 10th (“Guercino Masterpiece Stolen from Italian Church“). That work is estimated to be worth between 5–6 million ($6.7–8 million). It was last seen around midday on the 10th, suggesting that it could have been stolen during normal operating hours. 

This second theft in just two weeks was no less brazen. A member of the team investigating the Sforza Castle theft told La Republica that the approximately 25-centimeter square profiles of a man were likely taken in broad daylight.

The representative speculates that the perpetrator was familiar with the castle and its spotty security system, which left the hall in which the works were hung unguarded at the time and without any video recording equipment to catch them in the act. They would have also had to cut a wire, which affixed the works directly to the castle wall. Officials suggest the works were then carried out of the museum in a bag or backpack.

Sforza Castle’s museum director Francesca Tasso concurred with this theory of the crime. She also noted that there had not been a single theft in the 14 years she had been with the museum, the last having taken place in the 1980s.

The museum plans to implement new security measures in order to thwart future thieves. Tasso claims that her staff is examining the possibility of installing more security cameras in the galleries. They are also moving forward with plans to install a wardrobe and forcing visitors to the castle to check all backpacks and large handbags.

The city of Milan rejected claims that the delay to inform the police of the three paintings’ theft was unusual. According to officials the commanding guard was informed of the works’ disappearance at 3:50 pm. Thereafter, an inventory of the museum and initial search had to be conducted per protocol in order to ensure that the works had not been moved by conservators or other museum staff.

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