Monday, April 07, 2014


Here is a heartwarming tale of honesty:

One day in 1975, a Sicilian man who had moved to Turin to work for Fiat attended a lost property auction at a railway workers' recreational club. As the man was an art lover, his eye was drawn to two particularly attractive paintings, a still life and a portrait of a young woman in a garden. He bought the two paintings for 45,000 Italian lire, worth £19 or $31 in today's values and, until a few weeks ago, both paintings hung in his kitchens, first in Turin and then back in Sicily following his retirement. There, in the heart of the home, he could gaze at them to his own heart's content.

Recently the man's son, an architecture student in Siracusa, happened to be looking through a catalogue of paintings by Gauguin and noticed some similarities with one of the paintings on his father's kitchen wall. After further research by his son, our honest Sicilian pensioner alerted the police and an extraordinary story came to light:

The paintings, now verified as a Gauguin from 1889 and an undated Bonnard, had been stolen from a London collector in 1970 and he, in turn, had bought them at a rather more prestigious auction in 1961. No one knows exactly how they ended up in the lost property office of the Ferrovie dello Stato but it is thought that the thieves were carrying them on the Paris to Turin train when they realised that there was to be a check at the border, so they abandoned them. They are now, obviously, worth a lot more than £19!

Having made enquiries in London, the Italian police have discovered that the art collector was a relative of the Marks and Spencer family and had no direct heirs. At the moment the paintings are still in police custody but, if there are no claims, it is possible that our Sicilian pensioner will be able to continue to enjoy them if he so wishes.


Whispering Walls said...

Buon fortuno!

Lee said...

What an incredible story. I hope, somehow,the Sicilian pensioner is able to retain his paintings - if not, I hope he's duly and generously compensated.

How exciting for him, really.

Now I'm off to look closely at my paintings on my walls. Oh! Hang on! I painted them! Damn!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I hope he gets to keep them too, WW and Lee.

CherryPie said...

I too hope he gets to keep them. He deserves them :-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

He does indeed, Cherie.


View My Stats