Earlier this month several rare paintings by Picasso and Rembrandt were found by Russian police during a raid on an illegal gambling den in Moscow. The expensive works of art were in the hands of criminals who were running an illegal gambling operation from offices in the Russian capital. With this story in mind we had a look at our favourite tales of rare art, assumed missing for years, popping up out of the blue in some very unlikely destinations.
$300m Michelangelo found behind a sofa
Finding a five pound note down the back of the sofa is great, but finding a $300m painting is even better! The unfinished painting of Mary and Jesus had been in the family of US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Martin Kober for years. Originally the painting had proudly hung on the wall until it was a knocked off by a stray tennis ball almost 30 years ago. Since then it sat behind a sofa rapped in bubble wrap collecting dust until Kober decided to research the paintings origins a bit further. He took the canvas to Italian art historian Antonio Forcellino who is convinced the painting is a genuine Michelangelo worth around $300m! Since learning how much the painting might be worth Kober has wisely moved it from behind his sofa and stored it securely in a bank vault.
French electrician reveals he has £50m unseen Picasso paintings stored in his garage
Last year, retired electrician Pierre Le Guennec, 71, revealed he had 271 paintings and sculptures (including some unseen works) by legendary artist Pablo Picasso stored in his garage. Le Guennec claims the works were given to him as gifts for installing burglar alarms on several of Picasso’s properties in the south of France.
Le Guennec may now wish he’d kept his valuable art collection a secret. In September he approached Picasso’s estate to get the paintings authenticated. The estate disputed the legitimacy of the paintings claiming that Picasso would never have given such a high number of art works away to anyone – let alone a burglar alarm engineer. A legal battle between the two parties has now begun.
Missing Cypriot icon found in Boy George’s sitting room…
It’s safe to say Church officials in Cyprus were more than a little surprised to discover their missing icon of Jesus hanging above a fire place in Boy George’s home, while they watched an interview with the star on TV! The former Culture Club singer bought the artefact in good faith from an antique dealer in North London in 1985. In actual fact the icon had been stolen from a church in Cyprus and had been missing for nearly 40 years. Bizarrely members of the church were watching an interview with Boy George when they spotted the artefact hanging above his fire place. They got in touch with the celebrity to explain the situation. Boy George had no qualms in handing back the artefact, stating; “I have always been a friend of Cyprus, I look forward to seeing the icon on display in the Church of St Charalambos from where it was stolen.”