Apparently, cameras and the media don’t catch it all: Numerous valuable pieces of art by artists including Claude Monet and Amedeo Modigliani, valued at nearly $24 million, were stolen from Rai, Italy’s national public broadcasting company (Radiotelevisione Italiana), and replaced with fakes. The thefts were only discovered in March when one of the paintings was accidentally knocked down and its frame broke, revealing it to be a fake. Prime suspects are dissatisfied Rai employees. The disappearance of that work by Ottone Rosai was traced back to a retired employee who admitted selling it in the 1970s, outside the statute of limitations for theft.
The collection was bought with public funds, and officials think pieces by Monet and Modigliani disappeared during a 1996 exhibition in Puglia. The artwork was hanging on corridor walls and in rooms without any security. Among the stolen artworks are the paintings Domenica della Buona Gente by Renato Guttuso, Vita nei Campi by Giorgio De Chirico, and Il Colosseo by Giovanni Stradone, as well as Monet’s etching Paysage de Verneuil and Modigliani’s etching Petit Fils.
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How would the work have been stolen in the late 90s if a former employee admitted selling a work in 1970. That’s a pretty wide gap.