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Stolen Verona Museum Paintings Returned From Ukraine

Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini traveled to Ukraine to retrieve seventeen canvases valued at roughly $17 million that were stolen from the Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona, the Associated Press reports.

The paintings, by artists such as Rubens, Tintoretto, and Mantegna, were heisted by armed robbers in November 2015. As the museum was closing, robbers removed the works from the walls before the building’s security system was activated and left the premises using a security guard’s vehicle. In May 2016, Ukrainian authorities recovered the paintings, which were wrapped in plastic bags, on a small island on the Dniester River.

Six people were charged with robbery and convicted, including a museum guard, Pasquale Silvestri Riccardi, who received a prison sentence of ten years and eight months earlier this month.

In a ceremony in Kiev, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko presented Franceschini with the paintings and said, “The theft of masterpiece paintings is akin to stealing part of the city’s heart.”

The works were received in fairly good condition with only minor scratches. On Friday, December 23, they will be exhibited for about a month before undergoing restoration. Franceschini said, “It’s an important day, because the works are all returning to Verona intact. It was an ugly story that became a beautiful story.”