Two are being investigated over the Ligabue painting, which was confiscated from an exhibition in the Valley

The investigations of the public prosecutor of Aosta go out Confiscation of the painting Self-Portrait with a Scarecrow last January exhibited at the time in the exhibition “Antonio Ligabue and his world” set up in the Forte di Bard. This is the curator of the retrospective, Alessandro Parmiggiani (74 years, Reggio Emilia) and the gallery owner Patrizia Lodi (67, Parma). The crime suspected by investigators against them is this stolen goods in competition.

31 years ago the theft

The investigations are coordinated by the public prosecutor’s office Giovanni Rotegliahas established that the canvas created between 1957 and 1958 – a 62 by 50 centimeter oil on Phasis – is about actually the one reported by an old woman had been stolen, which took place in 1991 in the private apartment of the woman (who then lived in the Parma area and now lives in Milan). A work that those who had it at home never stopped looking, to the point where they claim to have recognized it in the rooms of the fortress of the lower valley.

It was precisely this report that brought the Carabinieri of the Monza Heritage Protection Unit to Bard for the kidnapping. The investigators’ thesis is that neither the curator of the exhibition nor the gallery owner (he asked to contact the owners of works by the famous Italian painter and sculptor in order to obtain them on loan and to organize the retrospective at the Forte) the legal origin of the work is established and certifiedthereby failing to comply with the Cultural Heritage Code.

The revealing detail

In the ad thirty-one years ago, at the time of the kidnapping, a detail was given regarding the content of the work that the confiscated painting does not depict. A dragonfly, in the upper right corner. An evaluation conducted by Brera Art Gallery explains why: this part of the fabric was removed with a scalpel and covered with tints representing the sky. If the operation took place, slightly with the intention of making the painting less recognizable, it is not possible to determine this.

It is precisely this detail that strengthens the investigators’ conviction that only the authenticity of the painting (which is valued today at 250,000 to 300,000 euros) was confirmed by the two suspects, but not its origin. The fact that the “mutilation” would have been caused by a “side light examination” (aimed at checking the overall thickness of the canvas) leads Arma and Procura to suspect that it was not carried out because their result should have led to doubts about the history of the screen.

The “quick” test

A thesis, which is combined with the testimonies collected during the investigations, for which, compared to over 100 works intended for the Barden exhibition (of which at least 66 are sculptural works), those with the “status report” (the analysis of the authenticity and provenance of the ” Pieces” under the supervision of the curator) they would not have had more than a day and a halfwhich essentially amounts to little more than a quick examination of a visual nature.

The self-portrait, a film history

The investigations of the Aosta Public Prosecutor’s Office also made it possible to reconstruct a good part of the history of the work, worthy of a Pupi Avati film, starting from the way it ended up in the Emilian family, shortly after its completion, from whom it was stolen . We speak, in fact, of a gesture of closeness to a necroforo of the village, grateful for being a friend of Ligabue asked him to make the picture and sold it at the time for 4,000 lire to those who had shown solidarity with him.

2006 a first track

Time passes and thirty years after this purchase, the house is attacked by thieves (besides the self-portrait, other works of art also disappear). So began the incessant search for the woman who recognized him today. For years he followed everything related to the retrospectives on Ligabue, hoping to identify the work. 2006 Review of the “Catalog raisonné” published by Sergio Negri (renowned archivist of Ligabue), recognizes an extremely similar painting, but its signaling does not lead to physically finding it: The owner indicated at that time that the work was no longer available.

(At least) two hand changes

Investigations show that the painting was presented to the archivist Negri in 1993 by a person who claims to have bought it between 1970 and 1980 (a fact which investigators doubt as it should have been in Emilia’s house at the time , where it was’ was then stolen) by an unspecified plumber from Muggiò in the Milan area. Contracts, details, other information? No memories, no documents. All you get is that person is after 1995 he sold it on to a Milanese.

It will change hands again in 2015 when it comes to an entrepreneur who is likely to choose the artworks as an investment (he seems to own another 6/7 paintings by Ligabue). This transaction takes place through the mediation of the gallery Lodi. A sale that hardly convinces investigators, because if it is taxed, it seems to be the first moment in which the provenance of the work is “overlooked” (in an email seized in a search, the gallerist claims not to be found to be precedent owner than the one who asked them to mediate).

Il Forte, an offended party in the affair

The rest is more recent history, with Self-Portrait with a Scarecrow sent to four exhibitions between 2015 and 2022, all curated by Parmiggiani. The fifth is that of Bard (in which he is one of the proposed “masterpieces”), where the woman who has been looking for him for thirty years recognizes him. Forte di Bard appears to have purchased the retrospective with a “turnkey” package from an industry company. A mechanism that led investigators to exclude the responsibility of the association that manages the fortress on the contrary, it emerges from the investigations as the offended and can therefore, if it deems it appropriate, file an economic claim for compensation for the damage suffered as a side party in the proceedings.

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