Peru: Stolen paintings recovered in U.S. return to Cusco

Arzobispo de Cusco Richard Alarcón junto a lienzo de Santo Tomás de Aquino

Arzobispo de Cusco Richard Alarcón junto a lienzo de Santo Tomás de Aquino

07:00 | Lima, Jan. 27.

Two colonial canvases stolen from the Archdiocese of Cusco in 2001, and later recovered in the United States, have been returned to Cusco Archbishop Richard Alarcon, Peru's Culture Ministry informed.

Following a process that stretched over nearly 7 years, the paintings were handed back during an official ceremony featuring Culture Minister Salvador del Solar.

Having underlined the importance of protecting national cultural heritage, the government official expressed his gratitude to the Ministry's Cultural Heritage Defense General-Department and various international authorities, who made the recovery possible.  

"We appreciate the support of U.S. authorities, who played a key role in the recovery of these pieces through the bilateral memorandum of understanding. Similarly, we thank Unesco and Interpol for their participation in the process," he said.

Lastly, Del Solar called upon fellow Peruvians to "love our heritage" and "appreciate the enormous efforts" behind the said recovery. 

The ceremony also saw the presence of representatives of Peru's Foreign Affairs and Public Ministries, Unesco, Interpol, the United States Embassy, among others.

The masterpieces

The art pieces in question are two oil on canvases depicting St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Anthony the Abbot, stolen from Cusco's Santa Maria Magdalena de Taray Church during a local festivity in October 2001.
Both paintings were eventually located in the United States, where they were about to be sold at the Austin Auction Gallery in Texas. They comprised a Peruvian citizen's private collection.

The artworks were handed over to the Peruvian Consulate in Houston in October 2014 and repatriated in May 2016. 


Published: 1/27/2017