Milan, carabinieri recover a Duomo gargoyle stolen in 1943

Carabinieri from the Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale in Monza have recovered a gargoyle, or gargoyle, from Milan Cathedral: it had fallen from a spire during the 1943 bombing and was later stolen and illegally exported abroad.

Important recovery by Carabinieri from the Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale in Monza, who tracked down and seized a gargoyle from Milan Cathedral. Also known as gargoyles, gargoyles depict creatures of various shapes and features and are architectural elements used in Gothic cathedrals and made to channel rainwater in the absence of downspouts, thus drawing water away from the cathedral itself.

The seized gargoyle depicts a winged dragon belonging to the Cathedral’s monumental complex, a piece that fell from one of the spires of Milan Cathedral following the bombings that damaged the cathedral and beyond in 1943.

The cultural good was found to be of criminal provenance because it was sold, in violation of the regulations on the alienation of cultural goods, by a Milanese art gallery whose representative had illicitly exported the good abroad by presenting it to an export office to obtain a certificate of free circulation, making untrue statements and, above all, claiming that the gargoyle was not the result of a detachment and that it came from Northern Europe, even though he was aware of the real nature and provenance of the good itself.

Investigations and assessments, conducted by the Carabinieri of the Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale of Monza together with experts from the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo and coordinated by theJudicial Authority of Milan, made it possible to trace the gargoyle to a restorer in the Netherlands where, once the restoration was completed, it was then to go on display for sale at an antiques fair.

In fact, also through the execution of a European investigation order and the consequent issuance of the freezing certificate for execution in the countries of the European Union for the subsequent confiscation of the cultural asset and its return to the rightful owner, with the coordination of EUROJUST, the collateral Dutch National Police body collaborated in the reconstruction of the journey that the gargoyle had made in Europe starting from Italy and then arriving in Belgium after a brief stop also in the Netherlands.

The activities of the Carabinieri of the TPC of Monza also made it possible to retrace the transfers that followed after World War II up to the present day, ascertaining that the owner of the property right on the gargoyle was still the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, to which the winged dragon will thus be returned.

Milan, carabinieri recover a Duomo gargoyle stolen in 1943
Milan, carabinieri recover a Duomo gargoyle stolen in 1943

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