Stolen Gauguin found after 40 years

(CNN) – A couple of stolen paintings by two French masters have resurfaced after more than 40 years.

How Italian investigators found them is a story in itself.

It sounds like something out of a Hollywood movie.

Two masterpieces, missing for decades, are recovered by Italian authorities and unveiled in Rome on Wednesday.

Paul Gaugin’s “Fruit on a Table or Small Dog” and Pierre Bonnard’s “Woman with Two Chairs” were stolen from a London home in 1970, then thought to have been mysteriously abandoned on a train in Italy.

An Italian auto worker eventually bought the paintings at a lost property auction for about $30 dollars having no idea of their real value.

“They were bought by an art-loving worker, who hung them for 40 years in his kitchen, first in Turin then in Sicily, after he retired,” General Mariano Mossa, Italian Heritage Police said.

The man’s son recently decided to sell the paintings, and that’s when they caught the attention of police.

After a lengthy investigation, authorities were able to trace the paintings back to the 1970 theft.

“I’m here to thank the police, for this extraordinary recovery. The story we heard is really unthinkable… The recovery of the paintings are the symbol of extraordinary work,” Dario Franceschini, Italian Culture Minister said.

Experts estimate the Gaugin is worth as much as 40-million dollars.

The Bonnard is valued at more than 800-thousand.

Since the original owner died and apparently left no heirs, authorities now have to determine the paintings’ rightful owners.

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