Stolen Caravaggio work recovered in Germany

Stolen Caravaggio work recovered in Germany

Last Updated: Monday, June 28, 2010 | 10:31 AM ET Comments0Recommend1
CBC News

A valuable Caravaggio painting stolen two years ago in Ukraine has been recovered in a joint effort by German and Ukrainian authorities, police announced in Berlin on Monday.

The large chiaroscuro painting, known as The Taking of Christ (and alternately as The Kiss of Judas), was recovered on Friday and has since been verified and authenticated by German art experts, according to a statement from German federal police.

“The Ukrainian authorities have valued the painting in the tens of millions,” the police statement said.

Others have estimated that the work could fetch up to $100 million US on the black market.

On Friday, German police arrested four men — three Ukrainians and one Russian — who were attempting to sell the canvas to a buyer in Berlin. The men are suspected to be members of an international art theft ring.

In Ukraine, officers then arrested another 20 individuals suspected to be involved with the gang of art thieves.

Painted around 1602, The Taking of Christ depicts Jesus being dragged by soldiers after being kissed by his disciple Judas. Though some believe the work to be a student’s replica of a Caravaggio painting on display at National Gallery of Ireland, in 1950 a Soviet art expert declared The Taking of Christ a work of the Italian baroque master.

The painting was snatched from Ukraine’s Museum of Western European and Oriental Art in Odessa in July 2008, with officials admitting that the thief or thieves bypassed the facility’s outdated alarm system by simply removing panes of glass to enter at night.

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