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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A rare painting stolen 40 years ago that found its way to the Speed Art Museum will be returned to its rightful owner. The U.S. Department of Justice says the Speed "promptly" cooperated with authorities when the origin of the painting was discovered.
The painting is a triptych, an artwork divided into three panels. It was created in the 14th Century and depicts the Virgin Mary with Child.
Federal authorities say the artwork, attributed to the artist Jacopo del Casentino, was stolen from an Italian villa in 1971. In all, 14 pieces of art were taken, worth $33 million.
From "The Thomas Crown Affair" to "Entrapment" and "Ocean's 12," the concept of a high stakes art heist is box office magic, and a story that's much more real than you might think.
Information from the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage in Rome about three months ago led Homeland Security agents to the Speed, where the painting was compared to photographs and positively identified.
Speed Art Museum Director Charles Venable tells WDRB News he's sad to see any work of art leave the Speed. "This is a work, though, that we're much happier to know that it's going back to its rightful owner."
The Speed Art Museum had bought the piece from a New York art gallery in 1973 for $38,000.
Speed Museum leaders will get some mileage out of the piece before they send it off to Italy -- it will go on exhibition beginning June 9th.