Art Market

Italian authorities recovered an 18th-century cabinetmaker’s masterpiece that was previously exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum.

Eli Hill
Jul 26, 2018 4:26PM, via New York Post

Italy’s national police force, the Carabinieri, recently recovered cabinetmaker Pietro Piffetti’s masterpiece, a two-person desk valued at over €2 million ($2.3 million). The Carabinieri’s announcement describes the object as a, “double-body desk with precious inlays made of ivory and mother of pearl,” and states that the desk initially went missing after World War II.

After disappearing from Italy, the desk was transported to France, then to Switzerland, and at the end of the 1990s, it came to the United States, where it was exhibited at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. According to the New York Post, the Carabinieri force only recently found out that the desk had stolen; the Met said it was also unaware of the object’s troubled provenance. “This piece was at the museum on temporary loan in the late 1990s,” a spokesperson for the museum told the Post. It was “then returned to its owner over a decade ago.”

Once the Carabinieri discovered that the elaborate desk was pilfered, they approached its current owner—simply identified as a European collector—who agreed to hand it over. Piffetti’s masterpiece has already been returned to Italy.

Eli Hill
Get the Artsy app
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play
Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019