new revelations around the flight of The Nativity Caravaggio canvas stolen in Palermo in 1969 among the most sought-after in the world. A video dating back to 2001 published by the Guardian and performed by producer Massimo D Anolfi, we find the testimony of the parish priest Rocco Benedetto, who was officiating at the time in the oratory of San Lorenzo in Palermo and had attempted to retrieve the work.

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To prove that they held the table, thieves had cut out and sent a piece of canvas for Rocco Benedetto. Cuppoz/Wikipedia Commons

“Several months after the flight, I received a letter with me to San Lorenzo, in which the thieves said that they were in possession of the table. “If you want to negotiate with us, write in the journal at this location”,” the parish priest who was in rush to report the news to the superintendent of cultural affairs in Palermo. “The next day, so we have written to the same location. A few weeks later, I received a new letter, accompanied by a small piece of Caravaggio. “We have actually the table, if you have the intention of dealing with us, make a new insertion in the newspaper”, they said. So I went back to see my superintendent for him to explain. But he refused to do anything, I don’t understand why,” he says.

An honesty that could be expensive to Rocco Benedetto, reported to the police by the superintendent, who suspected him of being mixed up in the case. “They even took my fingerprints. Later, the superintendent apologized, recognizing its error. But the damage was done”, revealed it to Anolfi at the time of the interview.

The version of the parish priest, who died in 2003, was confirmed in may 2018 by the investigators italians, when Gaetano Grado, a mafia repented, they confessed that the painting had been owned by Gaetano Badalamenti, bosses of the crime syndicate. A member of his family had come into contact with an art dealer in Switzerland, where one could find work today. “We hope to find the table and take them home with him to Palermo,” said Rosy Bindi, the head of the commission anti-mafia Italian in February 2018.