Stolen Salvatore Rosa Painting Was Returned After 4 Years

Four years after it was stolen, Salvatore Rosa’s 17th-century painting A Rocky Coast, With Soldiers Studying a Plan was recently returned to its owners, Christ Church Picture Gallery. 

Back in 2020, thieves broke into Christ Church Picture Gallery, which is part of the University of Oxford’s Christ Church College, and stole three paintings, including A Rocky Coast, With Soldiers Studying a Plan. At the time, the value of the stolen artworks was estimated to be around $12 million.

The police launched a massive investigation to recover the paintings but didn’t have much success until a breakthrough earlier this year. A man from Romania contacted the local police, saying that he had the painting in his possession. The individual handed over the painting to Romanian authorities, which organized the handover to its rightful owners in March.

According to the statement issued by Thames Valley Police, the man who was in possession of Rosa’s painting previously had the two other stolen paintings—Anthony van Dyck’s A Soldier on Horseback and Annibale Carracci’s A Boy Drinking—as well. The man sold Dyck and Carracci’s paintings and believes they are now somewhere in Europe.

The police are now hoping to examine A Rocky Coast, With Soldiers Studying a Plan, and gather forensic evidence that would help track the other two paintings.

 “We’re grateful to the Romanian authorities and Thames Valley Police for their help in retrieving this priceless work and returning it to our gallery,” said Jacqueline Thalmann, Curator of Christ Church Picture Gallery. “The missing paintings have been on public view since 1768, so it’s vital that we recover them so they can be enjoyed and studied by all once more.”

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