The (missed) theft of Van Gogh’s works: man arrested in Dubai

    The (missed) theft of Van Gogh’s works: man arrested in Dubai.

    An organized crime personality accused of buying Van Gogh paintings on the black market was arrested in Dubai.

    The man, Raffaele Imperiale, is accused of using money from drugs, real estate empires and money laundering, and was arrested on August 4, now detained in the UAE pending extradition, as claimed in a joint statement by the Italian State Police and Police organizations for financial crimes.

    Scheveningen before a storm (1882) and A congregation leaves the Reformed Church of Nuenen (1884-85), stolen in 2002 from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, were found in 2016 by agents of the Guardia di Finanza, kept in Imperiale parents’ home in a ground of Castellammare di Stabia.

    Wrapped in cotton sheets and hidden in the cavity of the dwelling, the works were small in size, with dark and dull tones, but with the unmistakable pasty brushstroke of the Dutch artist.

    “The illicitly accumulated wealth allowed him to buy two Van Gogh paintings of unquantifiable value on the black market,” said the police; the works would have been paid approximately 350 thousand euros for both paintings, a figure that may be insufficient considering the inestimable value of the works.

    The boss’s passion for art also concerned architecture, as emerged from a communication from the police. In fact, he would have commissioned villas to be built in Dubai from the studio of the Iraqi architect and designer, naturalized British, Zaha Hadid, one of the 100 most influential personalities in the world.

    Earlier this year, Imperiale gave an interview in which he denied any involvement in the theft of the works, but admitted he bought them on the black market. “I bought them directly from the thief, because the price was attractive. But above all because I love art “.

    In this particular case it is clear that the thief had an “easy life” in reselling works of art stolen from a museum, but in most cases it is very complicated.

    Just think of how many works were recovered in 2020: the data released by the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage speak of 501,574 assets found.

    According to experts, the black market is the last resort for art thieves who hope to earn something from their theft. However, it is still a risky operation because, not being certified and accompanied by the necessary documentation, it could be mistaken for a fake and therefore ignored or resold at an economic value lower than the actual one.

    It often happens that thieves steal by gathering some information on the growing market value of works of art, without considering that their price depends on their authenticity and their history, as evidenced by the relevant certificates of authenticity and Provenance.

    Without these documents, the work of art is unsaleable.

    Among the technological solutions available to support the certification of works of art for professionals, we find Art Rights, the first platform to support the management and certification of works of art for the protection of Artists, Collectors, Galleries and sector operators in favor authenticity.


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