It was 11 March 2013 when in Drezzo, passing through the Pedrinate crossing, a large painting on canvas remained in the hands of the financial police, which was about to be introduced into Switzerland without documentation. The work – it could be auctioned by a 54-year-old Tuscan from Pontedera – was devoid of any type of documentation that would authorize its expatriation, as it should be for paintings by authors who are not alive and over 50 years old. Not only that, because a subsequent appraisal entrusted to the Superintendency of Milan, also responsible for the Como area, defined the painting “a work of undoubted historical interest and story that cannot leave the territory of the Republic without authorization”.
The inspection was carried out only a few days after the kidnapping, on 21 March 2013. Since then the large painting (dated 1618, “Portrait of Francesco dell’Antella”, oil on canvas by an anonymous author on which «a more prolonged search could provide information useful on the identification of the perpetrator “) was kept in the archives of the crime corps office of the Court of Como. In the meantime, sentences had passed (first instance, second instance and Cassation, on 4 October 2019) against the owner, who was definitively sentenced to pay a fine of 1,334 euros, while the Court of Como, from 16 June 2016, had ordered “The conferral of the painting to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage”. Materially, however, “Francesco dell’Antella” had no longer moved from the basement of the courthouse. The turning point came this year, thanks to the initiative of the Criminal Corps Office which sought a home for the large painting, again involving the Superintendency and also the Ministries. The decisive day was that of June 15, 2021, when from the Ministry of Justice, signed by Minister Marta Cartabia, a provision arrived that attributed the painting “to the Ministry of Culture – Uffizi Gallery in Florence”. The epilogue of the unusual story took place in these hours: an art historian from the Uffizi Gallery arrived from Florence who viewed the painting and, with the help of a company specialized in the transport of works of art, he oversaw the transfer to Tuscany.
The new home of the “Portrait of Francesco dell’Antella”, oil on canvas from 1618, will therefore be the Palatine Gallery in Palazzo Pitti, a frame of light and beauty that will compensate for the painting and the man portrayed for years spent in the shadow of the archives of the courthouse of Como.