Recovery of 3 Francis Bacon works makes headlines around the world


The works were recovered by the Spanish police following a tip-off from the Art Loss Register


The discovery of three stolen portraits by Francis Bacon has made international headlines over the past week. The paintings had been stolen from the private residence of José Capelo in Madrid in June 2015, along with two other Bacon portraits which are still missing. Capelo, a Spanish banker, was a friend of the famous British artist and had been depicted in Bacon’s Triptych 1991, among others. The paintings have a reported value of £19 million.

Following the theft, the stolen artworks were reported to Interpol by the Spanish police, and registered on the Art Loss Register database.

In February 2016, the ALR was contacted by an individual based in Sitges, a small town south of Barcelona, to research a Bacon portrait. The work in question, Study for a Portrait of José Capelo (first image above), was being offered for sale. The ALR immediately got in touch with the Spanish police, which led to the arrest of seven people in the case. News of the arrests in June 2016 made international headlines at the time, and was profiled by the ALR’s Director of Recoveries & General Counsel, James Ratcliffe, in Apollo Magazine.

The ongoing investigation by the Spanish police has already made fantastic progress in recovering these three artworks, and we hope that the two still missing will be found.

As the ALR’s James Ratcliffe told The Art Newspaper:

“The return of the pictures is testament to the benefits of international cooperation between the private sector and law enforcement agencies. That these pictures have now been recovered through the skill of the Spanish police, after the Art Loss Register had identified them, and following the circulation of details of the loss via Interpol, is a perfect example of the value of such collaboration”.


The final two missing works, including a self-portrait and one further portrait dating from Bacon’s late period in the 1980s