We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot
escape responsibility for the results
(Edward R. Murrow)
Published on 6 May 2012
The story appeared last week in EosArte.eu but had been circulating before that.
Journalist, painter and antiquarian Pierluigi Massimo Puglisi asked the head of the anti-Mafia unit Pietro Grasso if he knew where the painting by Caravaggio dated 1609, Natività con i Santi Lorenzo e Francesco d’Assisi, which was stolen from the San Lorenzo oratory in Palermo in 1969 and never found, ended up?
The anti-Mafia’s head’s reply was a chilling one: “We need more time because the situation is rather complicated, but we believe the painting ended up in the hands of ignorant people who hid it in a pigsty where the pigs ate it.”
The rumours about this disappearance had also been revealed by ‘pentito’ Gaspare Spatuzza towards the end of 2009, but the information was not considered to be trustworthy.
Now the confirmation has come from no less than Pietro Grasso and seems very clear: it is useless for people to expect the painting to be found in some mafia boss’s strongroom, because the painting does not exist any more.
A similar painting would today be sold for not less than €200 million.
Author Leonardo Sciascia wrote a story centred on this theft entitled ‘Una Storia Semplice’. Many mafia officials have, over the years, described a power struggle at the top of the Mafia in Sicily and it would seem that the painting ended up as part of the contention.
Spatuzza said that, in the 1980s, the painting was handed over to the Pullarà clan who hid it in a shed outside Palermo where, without any protection, it was eaten by rats. The remains were then burned. Rats or pigs – the result is the same: it’s another priceless painting that is no more.
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