In a case that seems to have all the elements of a tabloid thriller, involving the yacht of an American millionaire, a stolen Chagall, the old switcheroo, and a famous Italian football player has just been solved by Italian police. The Gazzetta del Sud has reported,
Italian art cops on Monday found a stolen masterpiece by Russian artist Marc Chagall in the Turin home of famed former Italian soccer player Roberto Bottega. The ex-Italy and Juventus striker, nicknamed Bobby Gol for his finishing instincts, bought the work in good faith from a Bologna gallery in 2003, a few months after it was stolen from a US yacht moored off the northeastern resort of Savona, police said.
It appears that the work was stolen by two Romanian crew members on the yacht who conspired with a gallery owner from Bologna. The piece by Chagall was titled Le Nu au Bouquet and purchased by the wealthy American at a gallery in New York in 1988. He decided to place it on his yacht and then subsequently passed away. It is unclear whether he passed away before or after the work was stolen. The work was then replaced by a forgery which was later discovered by an heir to the yacht owner when he went to Italy to settle his inheritance of the yacht.
The thieves were able to obtain a certificate of authenticity from the Chagall Foundation after stealing the work so it appears that Bottega purchased the stolen Chagall in good faith for 1.2 million euros in 2003.