Kiev, May 12 (IANS) Ukrainian authorities said they have recovered 17 paintings – worth over $18 million that were stolen from an Italian museum in 2015.
They said border guards found the art works hidden in plastic bags in the Odessa region, near the border with Moldova, BBC reported on Thursday.
President Petro Poroshenko said it was a “brilliant operation”, which showed Ukraine’s fight against art smuggling.
The paintings include works by Italian Renaissance painter, Tintoretto and Flemish Baroque painter, Peter Paul Rubens.
They were stolen from Verona’s Castelvecchio museum in November 2015 when three masked armed men entered the building after it closed for the day and just before the alarm system was activated.
They quickly overpowered a security guard and a cashier, before escaping with the paintings in a car.
In April, 13 suspects were arrested in Italy and Moldova, the authorities said.
President Poroshenko said Italian art experts would now be invited to Ukraine to authenticate the paintings and formalise their handover.