The Brigade Heritage of the National Police moved on Wednesday to Grenada to stop a man of 55 years in the municipality of Maracena (22.000 inhabitants), accused of selling the likes of Santa Margarita of Cortona, made by José de Mora at the end of the SEVENTEENTH century, property of the convent of Our Lady of the Angels, closed in 2017. After his arrest, police officers went to his home, where they found to their surprise almost a hundred images of the Child Jesus, allegedly from several colonies. The suspect is a neighbor who took advantage of the trust I had with the only three nuns of the order who live in the convent to subtract the image.
After a week of interrogations, the investigation of the National Police indicates that the defendant, taking advantage of the move of the last days of life from the convent, and went by the size, that rested in one of the walls of the altar of the church, the sneaked out and drove to a workshop nearby. A set of self-trust was commissioned to make an exact copy of the baroque sculpture. The suspect returned later version to the convent and put up for sale the original, which ended up in the possession of gallery owner Nicholas Cortez. This the selling for 350,000 euros in the commerce of Madrid, after having bought a broker of Zaragoza per 100,000.
Sources in the Service of Cultural heritage of the Junta de Andalucía in Granada, ensure that the copy was of enough quality, although it did not need any special analysis to uncover fraud. The mother federal, sor Josefa, responsible for the coordination of the convents of the franciscan poor clares, provided to THE COUNTRY days before the arrest, a photo of the carving (which he still had not determined that was false) and that the nuns maintained in order to deny your sale. All the specialists consulted by this newspaper concluded that the picture of the image on sale and provided by the nun were of the same sculpture, which test the quality of the copy.
“it Is clear that both images are not matching to 100%. For example, it can be seen in the joint upper left which has an inclination and movement entirely different, and the touch of the neck does not match in your size and in your way,” he explained in writing by sister Josefa, in an e-mail in which you attached the copied image of the saint.
Jose Mora, of 'St. Margaret of Cortona'. The piece stolen and sold received the export permit of the Board of Qualification, Assessment and Export of Spanish Historical Heritage on the 25th of June 2018. The gallery owner, Nicholas Cortes put it on sale in New York, during the celebration of the antiques fair TEFAF. Not obtained by buyer and returned to Madrid.
A citizen complaint to the Prosecutor's office of Environment, Madrid, alerting him of a new attempt at sale of historic pieces of this convent, closed, launched at the Ministry of Culture, denounced the facts to the Brigade of Heritage. Hours later, the National Police stopped the operation and requisaba the sculpture owned by Nicholas Cortez. Now the sale may be declared null and void and the original part of José de Mora would return to the new convent where she has gone to the inventory of the poor clares displaced from other colonies.
The suspect arrested is not religious, nor a gallery owner, but it is very well known in the area by keeping in his house a chapel full of religious images, above all sizes of Children Jesus. The National Police have found nearly a hundred of these, which have been seized. The technical Board are conducting an inventory of the sculptures in a hangar enabled for analysis and to determine the origin of each one of them and if these are original or copies. The detainee had the habit to restore them in the workshop where he carried out the fraudulent copy.
The convent closed was assuming the properties of others that they were going to close and so filled with artistic gems that, in turn, have been disappearing. Art historians and specialists in this convent, as professor Lazarus Gila, professor of History of Art at the University of Granada, remember him in his days of splendour, with hundreds of images of the Child Jesus, of which there was hardly any prior to the closing, after the death of the mother abbess. When the sisters make perpetual vows lead to a Child Jesus with them, because it is his divine spouse, and have it with them in their cells.
Gila was an advisor to the Archbishop of Granada for two decades and had already denounced the excessive freedom of the suspect with the three nuns —very limited in their physical powers— that lived there. Although pointing out that it is not the only neighbor that had those privileges. “We're seeing a confiscation silenced and are taking advantage of the sale of works of art. You need to perform an inventory with urgency,” says Gila, which denounces the disappearance of all those images.