Domenica, 21 Luglio 2019
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BOLOGNA

Stolen Guercino uninsured, commission job suspected

English
© ANSA

Bologna, August 14 - A Baroque masterpiece by the
Italian painter known as Guercino that was stolen from a church
in Modena was not insured, and the church did not have an alarm,
its parish priest said Thursday.
The church cannot afford to insure every painting in its
possession, according to Father Gianni Gherardi, parish priest
of the Church of San Vincenzo, where the priceless painting went
missing Sunday.
The Modena Savings Bank Foundation, which had equipped the
church with an alarm as part of a renovation it financed in the
early 2000s, also declined any responsibility in the chain of
missing security links that led to the painting's apparently
easy theft.
"The alarm system had been turned off, because it was
expensive to keep up," explained Monsignor Giacomo Morandi, from
the Modena archdiocese.
"This is a very serious blow to the city's artistic
heritage," Modena Savings Bank Foundation President Andrea Landi
remarked.
"I hope investigators will quickly identify those
responsible and return this extraordinary work of art to the
people of Modena".
The city and regional culture superintendent, Stefano
Casciu, said the Church owns both the painting and the building
that housed it, so it is responsible for their custody.
Police are analysing footage from security cameras in the
vicinity of the church for clues and suspect the theft was
commissioned, possibly by an unscrupulous collector.
The missing Guercino painting, which depicts the Madonna
with Saint John the Evangelist and Gregory Thaumaturgus and
measurs 293 x 184.5 cms, was taken along with its large frame,
spurring investigators to speculate it was moved out in a van.
The thieves may have hidden inside the church until it
closed, police said.
The 1639 oil painting was one of Guercino's most renowned,
admired and photographed works, making it impossible to sell or
display in a museum be it Italian or foreign, officials said.
"Its exact commercial value cannot be quantified, because
it is a piece that is outside the market. Placing it, even in
private, will be very difficult," Casciu pointed out.
This could mean the thieves are experienced criminals
working on commission for a high-profile collector.

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