Thieves hoping to steal this work learned that lesson the hard way last week when they attempted to steal this work of art from a baroque church (Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena) in Castelnuovo Magra in Liguria. Working from information that a theft was imminent, the Carabinieri and only a handful of the residents of the town orchestrated and elaborate switch.
They swapped the real painting out for a copy, and that’s what the thieves stole.
The thieves now have a near-worthless copy, and the painting is still safe in storage.
Daniele Montebello, the mayor of the town which has a population of 8,500, said “The original painting was replaced by a copy more than a month ago . . . We were hearing rumours that someone wanted to steal it, so the Carabinieri brought in the fake and installed security cameras.”
Parish Priest Fr. Alessandro Chintaretto, who was reportedly napping nearby when the theft took place, expressed relief the original is safe: “It is a work of rare beauty which expresses a moment of profound faith . . . ”.
- Elisabetta Povoledo, Thieves Trying to Steal Precious Painting Get Worthless Copy, The New York Times, Mar. 326, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/14/arts/design/brueghel-crucifixion-painting-stolen.html.
- Nick Squires, The Italian Job: Thieves Steal Bruegel Masterpiece Only to Learn It Was a Copy Planted by Police, The Telegraph, Mar. 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/03/14/italian-job-thieves-steal-bruegel-masterpiece-learn-copy-planted/.
- Thieves Steal A Famous Painting From An Italian Church — But Don’t Worry, It’s Fake, NPR.org, https://www.npr.org/2019/03/17/704257951/thieves-steal-a-famous-painting-from-an-italian-church-but-dont-worry-it-s-fake.
- Thieves steal fake €3m Bruegel masterpiece after police swap painting with copy, The Independent (Mar. 0, 2019), https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/bruegel-painting-theft-fake-church-police-italy-art-a8823151.html.