Significant Restitutions

2012 – Romanino seized from Italian collection and returned to rightful owners

Girolamo Romanino’s Christ Carrying the Cross was on loan at the Mary Brogan Museum in Tallahassee, Florida, when U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh seized it in November 2011.

The painting had arrived in Florida in March 2011 along with other 49 paintings from the Pinacoteca di Brera, a government-run museum in Milan, for an exhibition on Baroque paintings in North Italy. It had belonged to the Federico Gentili di Giuseppe, a Jewish Italian living in Paris, whose collection was sold by the Nazi-controlled French authorities in 1941. It entered the Italian collections in 1998, when the government purchased it from a private owner and decided to hang it in the Pinacoteca di Brera. Gentili’s heirs asked for their picture back but the Italian museum ignored their request.

When the Romanino entered the United States, Interpol was alerted and U.S. authorities seized the painting. The New York Times reported that Italian authorities thought that its “strong laws shielding government collections would protect it from seizure elsewhere” and that they “were livid” about the confiscation. The painting was returned to the heirs of Federico Gentili on April 18, 2012 and it was sold at auction by Christie’s on June 6, 2012 for $ 4.5 million.