Detectives attacked the trail of the “most wanted” picture in the world

A new hope appeared to find the original of the painting “Christmas by Saint Francis and St. Lawrence” half a century ago by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Investigators hinted that the work, cut from the frame in a church in Palermo, is hidden somewhere in Eastern Europe. A story filled with riddles, intrigues and crime can have a happy ending.Four months ago, the art world stirred the evidence of Mafiosi defector Gaetano Grado. He said that two days after the abduction one of the Sicilian godfathers invited him to look at the stolen treasure. The meeting was attended by a “very old” Swiss art dealer, who allegedly said that he would cut the canvas into pieces so that it would be easier to sell. And although the statement of the repentant gangster was taken skeptically by many, it prompted the prosecutor's office of Palermo to reopen the theft investigation. The other day, the Vatican convened a meeting of experts in Rome to discuss the new information that appeared during the search.Christmas with St. Francis and St. Lawrence Mikelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio 1609, 268 × 197 cm The Theft of Christmas with St. Francis and St. Lawrence ranks second in the FBI's list of ten unsolved crimes in the arts, and the lost picture is often called the “most wanted in the world”. The canvas depicts the Virgin Mary surrounded by saints and the Magi, bending over the newborn baby Jesus. It hung in the chapel of San Lorenzo in Sicilian Palermo, until a stormy night in October 1969, unknown persons cut it out of the frame. The theft occurred the next day after the picture was mentioned on the TV show about “forgotten treasures of art,” emphasizes the Italian edition of Ansa.

Ottavio Leoni, "Portrait of Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio" (c. 1621). Biblioteca Marucelliana, Florence
From the moment of disappearance, the fate of the artwork remained a mystery. Investigators who knew that not a single crime in Palermo then occurred without the knowledge of the mafia were looking for clues in the first place with the gangsters-defectors. For many years, they told one story more terrible than another. One reported that “Christmas” burned down, another - that eaten by mice or pigs, the third - that it was hidden and presented only at a meeting of mafia bosses, and the fourth one said that the picture was used as a bedside rug.

Despite the fact that all the threads led to a dead end, investigators - both local and international - never refused to search for a lost masterpiece. And so, at the last press conference, the detectives said that "Christmas" was actually preserved intact, and hinted at his possible whereabouts. They are convinced that the stolen canvas is still there where their new leads led, namely, in an unnamed city in Eastern Europe, which investigators recently visited. Thus, the Carabinieri denied the claims of Gaetano Grado and his "colleagues." Apparently, the former gangsters misled "another picture stolen from the church of Palermo a year later."Digitized fragment of the copy of “Nativity with Saint Francis and Saint Lawrence”. Photo: EFEIt is believed that Caravaggio wrote “Christmas by Saint Francis and Saint Lawrence” in 1609 - just one year before his death. The artist fled from Rome after he killed a man in a fight because of card debts. After that, he wandered around southern Italy and died in the Tuscan community of Porto Ercole shortly before his 39th birthday. Read also: Scientists discovered the cause of Caravaggio's death. This is not syphilisView of the chapel of San Lorenzo. Source: Now at the site of the original “Christmas” above the altar in the San Lorenzo Chapel hangs a high-quality copy, created in the art laboratory in 2015. Arthiv: read us in the Telegram and watch on Instagram
Based on The Local. Main illustration: the opening of the reproduction of the “Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence” in 2015; photo -