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Salvator Rosa painting stolen in Oxford raid found in Romania – two other artworks still missing | UK News

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An “‘irreplaceable” 17th Century artwork stolen from an Oxford University Gallery has been found in Romania – but police say they’re still hunting for two more paintings taken in the heist.

In March 2020 at least three thieves broke into the Christ Church Picture Gallery, taking three 16th and 17th Century paintings off the walls.

They used a ladder to escape with the artwork through the roof.

The haul was collectively worth around £10m.

The artwork is Salvator Rosa’s A Rocky Coast, With Soldiers Studying a Plan, painted in the late 1640s, Sir Anthony van Dyck’s A Soldier on Horseback, from 1616, and Annibale Carracci’s A Boy Drinking, from 1580.

Salvator Rosa’s A Rocky Coast, With Soldiers Studying A Plan. Pic: Christ Church Picture Gallery

On Thursday, Thames Valley Police revealed that with the help of law enforcement in Europe, the Salvator Rosa painting had been returned.

Detective Chief Inspector James Mather told a news conference: “Romanian police were contacted by a man in possession of the painting, who’d already sold the other two artworks.

“He chose to return the painting to the authorities when he realised it was stolen, and he’s being treated as a witness.”

A Soldier On Horseback by Anthony Van Dyck 
Pic:Christ Church Picture Gallery
A Soldier On Horseback by Sir Anthony van Dyck. Pic: Christ Church Picture Gallery

Annibale Carracci's A Boy Drinking .
Pic:Christ Church Picture Gallery
Annibale Carracci’s A Boy Drinking. Pic: Christ Church Picture Gallery

Officers hope that forensic evidence gathered from the 17th Century piece by experts in Bucharest, will help them to work out who stole it, and track down the other two pieces.

Police believe the two remaining paintings are somewhere in Europe.

DCI Mather told Sky News he is “most optimistic about DNA we’ve got from the painting”.

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Christopher Marinello, founder of Art Recovery International, told Sky News it is common for stolen works like this to end up in Eastern Europe.

“When these artworks are stolen, the thieves try to sell them as quickly as possible and move them out of the jurisdiction where they were stolen from,” he said.

“So we see gangs and fences operating in Eastern Europe. I have a number of cases right now where stolen artwork has surfaced in Serbia, Slovenia, Romania, Turkey.

“You know, it’s unfortunate, these are beautiful parts of the world, but they are the homes of gangs operating and buying and selling stolen property.”

Read more from Sky News:
Four men charged after stealing £4.8m loo
Hundreds of items missing from English museums
Artefacts go on display after being stolen from British Museum

While she hasn’t been reunited with the full collection, Jacqueline Thalmann, curator of Christ Church Picture Gallery, was ecstatic at the painting’s return, saying she wasn’t sure any of the pieces would be seen again in Oxford in her lifetime.

She said: “It’s for all of us – we’re custodians of this art for generations to come, and for the generations that came before us.

“[The paintings] should be here, they should be shared; not in a private collection or under someone’s bed.

“They are public property.”

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