It’s 53 years since Caravaggio’s Nativity was stolen in Palermo—Vanessa Beecroft unveils her personal model of the masterpiece in Sicily

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The Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft has unveiled her homage to Caravaggio’s Nativity masterpiece on the Sicilian oratory the place the Seventeenth-century work was reduce from its body and stolen greater than 50 years in the past.

At midnight on Christmas Eve, Beecroft unveiled her “private interpretation” of Caravaggio’s portray Nativity with Saints Lawrence and Francis of Assisi (1600) on the Oratory of Saint Lawrence in Palermo, Sicily.

“With my Nativity, I wish to respect the iconography of Caravaggio. I subsequently selected to depart the Divine within the gentle, and to overshadow the human figures of this [stolen] work,” Beecroft says in a press release. The work will stay on show above the altar of San Lorenzo till 8 January and can then be exhibited within the ante-oratory till 17 October 2023.

The Beecroft initiative was launched by the non-profit Affiliation Amici dei Musei Siciliani as a part of an ongoing cultural challenge generally known as Subsequent. Artists who’ve beforehand paid tribute to the lacking Caravaggio work embrace Alessandro Bazan and Fulvio Di Piazza.

The thriller of the stolen Nativity

On 18 October 1969, thieves reduce the Caravaggio canvas from its body with a razor, rolled it up and fled. The passage of time and the countless variations of occasions provided by informers and pseudo-detectives have taken over the inquiries, whereas the precise destiny of the Nativity stays shrouded in thriller.

“The goal of the challenge is to maintain the reminiscence of the well-known canvas alive and to exorcise, by means of artwork, some of the dramatic occasions within the historical past of cultural heritage, an open wound that also awaits, with hope, a attainable restoration,” says a challenge assertion.

In 2019, Bernardo Tortorici di Raffadali, the president of the Affiliation Amici dei Musei Siciliani, urged a lot of hypothetical outcomes, together with the proposition that the work had been saved in a barn the place it was eaten by mice and pigs.

One other situation includes the British journalist Peter Watson who claimed to have tracked the work down. However the portray was supposedly buried beneath rubble through the 1980 earthquake in Irpinia whereas negotiations had been underway with the Camorra, the Neapolitan equal of the mafia, to change it for a cache of medicine and arms.

Perhaps, the portray was stolen by the mafia. The theft of the Caravaggio, which is included within the FBI’s record of the highest ten artwork crimes, has featured within the testimony of quite a few mafia informants.

Caravaggio, Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence (1600) Wikimedia Commons

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