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Gauguin, Bonnard stolen in 1970s tracked down in Italy

Paintings hung in factory worker's kitchen for 40 years

02 April, 18:53
Gauguin, Bonnard stolen in 1970s tracked down in Italy (ANSA) - Rome, April 2 - Italian police recovered two paintings by French masters worth millions of euros stolen together in London in 1970, investigators revealed on Wednesday.

The paintings, which were unveiled at the Italian culture ministry in Rome, were hanging on the wall of an unwitting retired factory worker.

Paul Gauguin's Fruit on a Table or Small Dog and Pierre Bonnard's Woman with Two Chairs were stolen in London, then abandoned on a train and bought at an auction by a worker with Italian automaker Fiat who kept them hanging in his kitchen for four decades, completely unaware of their value and history.

The man, whose name has not been made public, bought them in 1975 for 45,000 Italian lire, around 23 euros.

The canvases have an estimated value of 15-35 million euros and 5-600,000 euros respectively.

The owners are now dead and investigators have so far been unable to identify a direct heir.

If no one makes a credible claim, the canvases could be given back to the retired factory worker.