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'Lost Caravaggio' discovered, Warhol paintings missing

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A painting discovered two years ago in a leaky attic in the south of France is by Italian master Caravaggio and worth an estimated 120 million euros. But the protaganists in the other story are not as lucky. A Missouri art museum had seven Andy Warhol paintings stolen from it last week.

The painting, entitled "Judith Beheading Holofernes", lay hidden for 150 years. It was discovered by a family in Toulouse who went into the eaves of their house looking for the source of a leak.

"The owners of this painting did not know the existence of the picture, they did not know that they had that picture because they found it in a part of the attic in which they had never been," said Eric Turquin, art expert.

"There was a leak in the roof so to reach the roof they had to go through the attic and break a door which they had never opened at the end of the attic. They broke the door and behind was that picture. It's really incredible."

The family called a local auctioneer who referred them to the Paris-based firm. It then carried out tests for over two years, including x-rays and infrared experiments.

The firm says it welcomes the debate about whether the work is a true Caravaggio, but Turquin said that it could not itself be a copy, as has been suggested by some.

"This picture is full of invention, it's full of sentiments, it's full of changes, it's full of invention, and a copyist does not invent... if not he's not a copyist," Turquin said.

"A copyist is faithful, he's servile, he's just dry, but this is the opposite. It's a picture which is painted with such an energy, but to realise that you have to get into the picture, to really come close to it and see how it is handled."

Turquin said estimating the work was a challenge as comparisons were hard, but he believed the price tag of 120 million euros was justified.

Meanwhile in the US, the story has a different ending.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has offered up to $25,000 as a reward for information on seven Andy Warhol paintings stolen from a Missouri art museum last week.

"In the early morning hours of April 7th the Springfield Art Museum was burglarized. During that burglary 7 of 10 Andy Warhol screen prints were taken. The collection is value at approximately 500,000 dollars," said Captain Vance Holland, Springfield Police Department.

"The theft of these iconic Warhol prints that the museum has had in its permanent collection for 30 years feels like the loss of a family member," said Nick Nelson, director, Springfield Art Museum.

The FBI's Art Crime Team said it is seeking help from the public in finding the stolen artworks.


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