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March 8, 2024

Museum Theft: One million euros worth of jewellery stolen from a temporary exhibit at the Vittoriale degli Italiani Museum in Italy

Forty-nine jewellery pieces, created by twentieth century sculptor, painter, and Italian partisan, Umberto Mastroianni have disappeared during a burglary between Tuesday and Wednesday night at the house-museum, Vittoriale degli Italiani in Gardone Riviera, which was once home to Italian poet and novelist Gabriele D'Annunzio.  One object was dropped when the thief or thieves departed. All of the pieces had been on temporary loan, as part of an exhibition titled: Come un oro caldo e fluido. Gli ori di Umberto Mastroianni, curated by Alberto Dambruoso, which featured bracelets, pendants, rings, brooches, plates and sculptures created by the artist between the 1950s and 1990s using the 'lost wax' method.  

Set up in an underground portion of the villa, the jewellery had been on display since December 30th.  Stolen just days before the exhibition was scheduled to conclude, and is initially believed to have perhaps been a theft to order, as the gang only stole objects from the Mastroianni exhibition and not pieces attributable to Gabriele d'Annunzio, for whom the museum is named, or other jewellery pieces another master goldsmith, Mario Buccellati (a friend of D'Annunzio), which were also on display. 

The theft was discovered yesterday by the Vittoriale's custodians who arrived at the museum only to discover the showcases empty. The theft was reported immediately to the local Carabinieri barracks and is being conducted with the support of the provincial command of Brescia as well as specialists from the Carabinieri TPC Nucleo in Monza. 

All 49 of the missing objects which were part of this exhibition are depicted within this blog post.

The artist Mastroianni, was the uncle of Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni and was born in Fontana Liri on 21 September 1910.  His first solo exhibition took place in 1931 in Genoa and by 1935 he had already participated in the National Art Quadrennial in Rome.  In 1936 he achieved notoriety at the XX Venice Biennale before joining the Italian Resistance, fighting in the partisan formations of the Canavese during World War II.   Highlights of his career also included the International Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1958 and the Tokyo Imperial Prize in 1989. That same year he was appointed a Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, the highest honour granted by the President of the Republic.

Up until the 1940s the artist was a classical sculptor in the traditional sense, only later creating the contemporary styles stolen in this heist. With losses currently estimated to be at one million euros, a press conference is scheduled for tomorrow to provide further details regarding the burglary. 

**Image Credit ANSA