While testifying to the Italian parliament’s standing commission on organized crime, mafia member Gaetano Grado claimed that a missing Caravaggio
painting, Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence
(1600), was handed off to a Swiss art dealer after it was stolen in 1969. The theft of the painting from a Baroque
chapel in Palermo, Sicily, has remained on the FBI’s list of top 10 art crimes. Grado said that the original thieves were petty criminals, but after the uproar following its disappearance, the mafia realized the painting’s worth, and it was handed over to the head of the Sicilian Mafia Commission, Gaetano Badalamenti. Badalamenti sold the work to an art dealer from Switzerland and, Grado claims, decided to cut the painting into pieces in order to transport it. This is not the first time a wild claim has been made about what the mafia did with the painting––according to The Art Newspaper
, previous mafia members have alleged that the painting was “stored in a stable and eaten by mice,” and even “used as a bedside carpet by a mafia boss.” The name of the Swiss dealer has not been released, but the head of the government commission on organized crime, Rosy Bindi, is following the lead and hoping for international cooperation.