Recovered Old Masters’ paintings in Ukraine to return to Italy

A collection of 17 Old Masters’ paintings, stolen from a museum in Italy last year and later recovered in Ukraine, was due to return home on Wednesday, the Italian ministry for culture said in a statement. The Renaissance and Baroque paintings by Rubens, Tintoretto, Bellini and others, valued at more than 16 million euros ($17 million), were taken from the Castelvecchio Museum in the northern city of Verona by a team of masked robbers.

In May, Ukrainian border guards intercepted the booty and arrested more than a dozen Moldovan and Italian suspects, including a guard on duty on the night of the theft. Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, who flew to Kiev for a handover ceremony with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, said those responsible “have already been singled out and have received exemplary jail sentences.” The paintings were then prepared for air transport and were slated to arrive at the Castelvecchio at 5:30 pm (1630 GMT), an official from Franceschini’s ministry said. —  AFP