At some point during the night of Sunday August 10, 2014, a well-known work by Guercino was stolen from the Church of San Vincenzo in Modena, Italy. Painted in 1639, Madonna and Saint John the Evangelist with St. Gregory the Wonderworker is considered to be one of the artist’s great masterpieces. It’s value is estimated as high as $8,000,000. The painting was not insured, and although the building was equipped with security alarms, the system was rendered non-functional because the Church lacked the funds to maintain it. The theft of this Guercino masterwork is one of the most tragic art thefts to occur in Italy in the last decade.
There was no sign of forced entry. This suggests that the thieves had hidden inside the building before the Church closed after the conclusion of Sunday Mass. The large Guercino painting measures about six by ten feet and was taken with it’s heavy frame, a cumbersome task, indicating that at least two or three people were involved in the theft. They would’ve had a large vehicle parked nearby, most likely a van or box truck, in order to fit the framed canvas inside. Some Italian authorities have speculated that the thieves may plan on cutting up the painting to sell the pieces separately. However, that dire scenario seems unlikely, because the thieves made a pointed effort to keep the painting whole and in it’s frame when they removed it. -T.S.