Lost Relic: Botticelli's Lost Masterpiece Found in Naples
A painting by Sandro Botticelli worth 100 million euros was found in a private house in the Italian city of Naples. The masterpiece was considered lost for more than 50 years.
This is reported by The Guardian.
For some unknown reason, one of the last works of the legendary Italian Renaissance master completely disappeared from the state's sight, and many experts considered it lost forever.
"The last time the authorities had inspected the private residence where the Botticelli painting was kept [was] over 50 years ago. Since then, inexplicably, the painting had been forgotten by the authorities. When, after research on these works to be inspected, we realised that a painting by Botticelli had been located in a private home for over 50 years, we decided to inspect it," said Massimiliano Croce, a representative of the Naples Carabinieri for the protection of cultural heritage.
According to the official, the painting was found in an extremely poor condition, with numerous abrasions and chromatic alterations caused by oxidation of varnishes. Currently, the Botticelli masterpiece awaits extensive restoration before it can be seen by the public.
Italian Carabinieri are investigating whether the painting truly belongs to the family that has kept it for over a century. According to Croce, if it is proven that the family has no rights to Botticelli's work, the painting will be handed over to the state. Otherwise, it will remain in the family's possession but will be kept in a museum for security reasons.
The painting, depicting the image of Madonna, a copy of Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci – the artist's lover who died aged 23, dates back to the 15th century.
Initially, Botticelli himself presented the painting to Pope Sixtus IV. The pontiff, in turn, transferred the artwork to a church in the town of Santa Maria La Carità. From there, the piece ended up in the house of a local family, which has preserved it for several generations.
It's worth noting that Ukraine has successfully reclaimed 14 valuable artifacts from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages, believed to have been previously stolen by Russians from collections of Ukrainian museums located in temporarily occupied territories.