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Christ Church Picture Gallery recovers stolen painting

One of the three paintings stolen from Christ Church Picture Gallery during a high-profile heist in March 2020 was returned, according to a joint press conference held by the Christ Church Picture Gallery and Thames Valley Police on 19 April. 

The landscape painting, A Rocky Coast, with Soldiers Studying a Plan by the baroque Italian master Salvator Rosa, is once again on display in its original place in the Gallery. 

Police in Romania were contacted by a man who possessed the painting. The same man also previously sold the other two artworks stolen from the gallery, which are currently understood to be somewhere in Europe. Romanian authorities have not arrested the contact and are treating him as a witness. 

After police recovered the painting, it was temporarily safeguarded in the National Gallery of Art in Bucharest. The official handover of the artwork to the gallery’s curator, Jacqueline Thalmann and Detective Chief Inspector (DCI), James Mather, of Thames Valley Police took place in the Romanian capital on 26 March. 

“We have harvested a large amount of forensic material from the painting when we recovered it in Bucharest”, DCI Mather said in a recent video statement.

“I’m really hopeful that the forensic opportunities combined with the ongoing investigations … provide good opportunity and good line of inquiry in relation to the burglary and the recovery of the further two paintings.” 

No additional information on the exact whereabouts of the other paintings has been released. 

Anthony van Dyck’s Soldier on Horseback and Annibale Caracci’s A Boy Drinking were two of the most valuable and significant pieces in the picture gallery’s collections.

Two frames remain hanging empty in the gallery “as a symbol of hope for their return.” The total estimated value of the heist was £10 million and the heist was one of the highest value art thefts in British history. 

DCI Mather stated that the man in Romania who had sold on the remaining stolen artwork, did so “not realizing their significance.”

Following recent developments, Thames Valley Police issued a fresh appeal for any information on the missing works.

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