The seized gargoyle depicts a winged dragon, belonging to the monumental complex of the Cathedral, a piece that fell from one of the spiers following the bombings that damaged the cathedral, and beyond, in 1943.

It had disappeared after the Second World War and would soon be put up for sale in some antiques fair. The Carabinieri of the Cultural Heritage Protection Unit of Monza have tracked down and seized a gargoyle from the Milan Cathedral in Holland. The gargoyle, this is the technical name of the cultural asset, was found to be of criminal origin because it was sold, in violation of the provisions of the legislation on the alienation of cultural assets, by a Milanese art gallery. According to what emerged from the military investigations, the representative would have illegally exported the goods abroad by presenting them to an export office to obtain the certificate of free circulation, “issuing untruthful declarations and above all stating that the gargoyle was not the result of a detachment and that came from Northern Europe, although aware of the real nature and provenance of the asset itself” explained by the Command.

The investigations and checks, conducted by the Carabinieri of the Cultural Heritage Protection Unit of Monza, together with the experts of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo and coordinated by the Judicial Authority of Milan, made it possible to trace the gargoyle to a restorer in the Netherlands where, once completed the restoration, it would then have had to go on display for sale at an antiques fair.

The Execution of a European Investigation

“In fact, also through the execution of a European investigation order and the consequent issuance of the freezing certificate for execution in the countries of the European Union for the subsequent confiscation of the cultural property and its return to the entitled party, with the coordination of EUROJUST, the collateral organ of the Dutch National Police collaborated in the reconstruction of the journey that the gargoyle had made in Europe starting from Italy and then arriving in Belgium after a brief stop also in Holland”.

The activity of the Carabinieri of the TPC of Monza has also made it possible to retrace the transfers which have followed one another since the Second World War up to the present day, ascertaining how the owner of the property right on the gargoyle was still today the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, a to which the winged dragon will thus be returned.

Also known as gargoyles, gargoyles represent creatures of various shapes and characteristics and are architectural elements used in Gothic cathedrals and made to convey rainwater in the absence of downspouts, thus removing the water from the cathedral itself.

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