Thieves steal fake Bruegel masterpiece

Sun Online Desk

15th March, 2019 03:06:42 printer

Thieves steal fake Bruegel masterpiece

Art thieves stole a 17th-century masterpiece worth $3.4 million from a church earlier this week in northern Italy or at least they thought they had.


Police later revealed the painting in the thieves' possession was not "The Crucifixion" by Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Younger, but a fake they had replaced it with as part of a sting operation.


Police in Castelnuovo Magra, a small town in Liguria, said they had uncovered a plot to steal the painting from Santa Maria Maddalena church -- and so set a trap a month ago, according to Italian media.


The real masterpiece, donated to the church at the beginning of the 20th century, was taken down and kept safe in storage, and a copy hung in its place. Police installed surveillance cameras to monitor the church.


On Wednesday, the thieves broke into the display case containing the painting with a hammer and made off with the painting by car -- seemingly unaware that their loot was anything but the real deal.