On the Trail of a Mystery Caravaggio (from The Wall Street Journal)


A biblical David leans over, grabbing the bloody, severed head of Goliath. The powerful image in the painting is reminiscent of an almost identical work in Madrid’s Prado Museum by the Italian master Caravaggio.

Is this painting also by Caravaggio, and thus worth a huge sum, or is it a 17th-century copy with little value?

That question is at the center of a mystery in the collapse of Freestone Insurance Co., a Delaware insurer now in liquidation. Alexander Chatfield Burns, the head of a company that owned Freestone, arranged to buy the artwork for a $1.5 million down payment, with $38.5 million to be paid later. He then allegedly funneled $128 million from Freestone and other insurer interests into entities with rights to the artwork, according to filings in Delaware Chancery Court.

If the painting is a genuine Caravaggio, the insurers might be able to recover some of their … CONTINUE READING HERE



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