The “disloyal employees” of the Italian public broadcaster, Rai, are suspected of stealing dozens of works of art from its offices dating back to the 1970s.
In what the daily Il Messaggero described as “Rai’s bag”, “invaluable” works of art were removed from the broadcaster’s headquarters in Rome and units across the country and replaced with counterfeits. The works included original paintings by Renato Guttuso and engravings by Claude Monet and Amedeo Modigliani.
It was only by chance that the Rai chiefs discovered that the pieces had been stolen when, a few months ago, a painting fell from the wall in an office at the Rai headquarters, and from the broken frame it fell. turned out to be a copy of the original Architettura by Ottone Rosaï.
The incident was reported to the Italian Art Police and they quickly identified the culprit – a retired Rai employee who admitted to stealing the original painting and selling it for 25 million lire in the 1970s. The man will not be brought to justice because the statute of limitations for the crime has expired.
Rai then searched his catalog of works of art, most of which were purchased in the 1960s and 1970s, and found that 120 original works, including bronze and gold statues by sculptor Francesco Messina, were missing. Police believe most thefts have been committed since 1996, when the Rai held an exhibition of his works of art in the city of Lecce in Puglia.
Police believe “disloyal employees” are most likely at the origin of the remainder of the thefts, Il Messaggero reported.
Among the stolen works were an etching that Monet made of his Paysage de Verneuil, as well as an etching that Modigliani made of Petit Fils and one by Alfred Sisley of his Hampton Court.
Other stolen paintings included Guttuso’s Sunday of the Good People, Giorgio De Chirico’s Life in the Fields, Giovanni Stradone’s The Colosseum, and Francesco Menzio’s Porto di Genova.
“These were works of great value that were just hung on the walls of the corridors or rooms of the Rai buildings, without any alarm system, and therefore anyone could enter and take them,” said Giuseppe Scarpa , journalist covering the investigation for the newspaper.