Masterpieces by artists including Tintoretto and Peter Paul Rubens have been stolen from the Museo Civico di Castelvecchio, Verona, according to reports in the Italian media. The theft reportedly took place on Thursday evening (19 November). Three armed men entered the museum after it had shut, disabled the security system and immobilised a guard, before grabbing the 17 paintings worth in total around €10m-€15m. The haul includes six works by Tintoretto, as well as pieces by Rubens, Jacopo Mantegna, Jacopo Bellini and Hans de Jode.
The men reportedly made their escape in the security guard’s car before switching to another vehicle. The Italian ministry of culture and the Carabinieri, the Italian police force, are searching for the perpetrators. The mayor of Verona, Flavio Tosi, told the Italian press he believes the heist was “specially commissioned by someone because the thieves were well timed, well organised and knew what they wanted”. The critic and curator Vittorio Sgarbi described the theft as “one of the most significant art thefts ever to happen in Italy”.
The incident may call into question the low levels of security in many Italian museums, especially those in medium-size towns where it can be more lax than in major cities such as Rome and Milan.