Vatican Now Reveals 1997 Michelangelo Theft

Priceless document was snatched nearly 20 years ago
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2015 3:39 AM CDT
The Vatican's Pauline Chapel during an inauguration ceremony after restoration works.   (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano)

(Newser) – Is life borrowing plots from Dan Brown books? The Vatican yesterday confirmed that a letter from Michelangelo himself was stolen from its archives and a $108,000 ransom is being sought in exchange for it and a second document, NBC News reports. According to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, the priceless letter, believed to be the only one still around that was written in full by Michelangelo himself instead of dictated to assistants, was taken in 1997 from the archives at the Vatican's Fabbrica di San Pietro basilica by a former Vatican employee. Reuters reports a person recently reached out to the cardinal in charge of St Peter’s Basilica, and a Vatican rep says that cardinal was offered the documents for "a certain price."

In an interview with Vatican Radio, a Vatican spokesman confirmed the theft—which had not been public before yesterday—and said a second letter bearing Michelangelo's signature had also been stolen. The spokesman says Vatican security services are working with Italian police on the case. It's not clear why it has taken so long for the theft to emerge, or how long the investigation has been going on for, the BBC notes. (Researchers warn that the weak ankles of Michelangelo's David could lead to its downfall.)

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