Masterpiece at centre of smuggling mystery to go on show

One of the greatest oil paintings by the Flemish artist Anton van Dyck, The Lamentation of Christ, is to be the centrepiece of an exhibition opening in Milan next month after its emergence at the centre of a smuggling mystery. Saved during the Second World War by its owner at the time, Duke Airoldi di Cruillas, who kept it under his bed at his home in Sicily, the painting, which measures 2.5 metres by 1.17 metres and dates from 1630, was presented in Rome for restoration in 1997 with a document saying it had been "temporarily imported" from Switzerland. An art historian discovered the painting was, in fact, destined for an unnamed Swiss antiquarian, who is now accused of attempting to export it illegally.

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