Italian suspected of planning van Gogh Heist arrested – ARTnews.com

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One of Italy’s most wanted fugitives, a suspected mainstay of the Naples-based organized crime syndicate Camorra, has been arrested in Dubai on suspicion of buying van Gogh paintings on the black market.

Raffaele Imperiale, considered by police to be a major figure in organized crime, was arrested on August 4 and is being held in the United Arab Emirates pending his extradition, Italian state police and police organizations said. financial crimes in a joint press release. Imperiale has been wanted by the authorities since 2016 for money laundering and international drug trafficking.

“He managed to build an imposing network,” investigators said. Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese described Imperial Oil as “the main representative of international drug trafficking and money laundering, which has accumulated enormous amounts of illicit wealth mainly thanks to the sales of cocaine”. Throughout his exploits, his ties to influential Camorra families helped him survive various feuds between the clans of Naples.

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In 2016, the Italian authorities recovered two paintings by van Gogh stolen in 2002 from an Amsterdam museum dedicated to the artist. The works, Sea view in Scheveningen (1882) and Congregation leaving the Reformed Church of Nuenen (1884-1885), had been hidden on a farm on land belonging to Imperiale in his hometown, Castellammare di Stabia.

“The illicitly accumulated wealth enabled him to buy two Van Gogh paintings of unquantifiable value on the black market,” police said. Earlier this year, Imperiale gave an interview to the Neapolitan newspaper Il Mattino in which he denied any involvement in the theft, but admitted purchasing both works.

“I bought them directly from the thief, because the price was attractive. But mostly because I love art, ” Imperiale told the post.


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