Italian Cops Seize 19 Hidden Masterpieces

Founder of bankrupt dairy conglomerate stashed them away
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 5, 2009 3:56 PM CST
Italian tax police officers hold a Claude Monet painting.   (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
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(Newser) – Italian tax police seized works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, and other giants of art in a crackdown on assets hidden by the disgraced founder of the collapsed dairy company Parmalat. Authorities estimated the 19 masterpieces stashed away in attics and basements were valued at $150 million. At least one, and possibly the whole batch, were about to be sold by Calisto Tanzi on the black market, say investigators.

For years after the 2003 collapse of Parmalat, Europe's largest corporate bankruptcy, Tanzi was rumored to have had a "hidden treasure" somewhere to safeguard his personal wealth. He denied the charges as recently as last month after a state TV show raised the allegations anew. Tanzi already has been accused of market rigging and is on trial again for more charges related to the bankruptcy. Now he could be in hot water for hiding assets.

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