Rome: Italian police recovered a painting by Pablo Picasso, valued at $16 million, which had allegedly been stolen and was "about to be exported," an Italian culture ministry source said.
The recovered medium size oil painting entitled, "Violin et bouteille de Bass", dates back to 1912, corresponding with the time of the Cubism movement that has become synonymous with the Spanish artist.
The tableau was found by the cultural assets department of the Italian Carabinieri police, the source added.
Suspicions about the painting were sparked when an unnamed man intended to have the painting sold at an auction house.
Mossa told Spanish media that "the owner has not been identified", and that agents are working to "verify the legitimacy of the owner and the movements of the work".
So far, investigators uncovered that the painting's story is traced back to 1978 when "a frame maker in Rome repaired a frame of a photograph an old man's deceased wife", and when the frame maker refused payment, the client "gave this canvas, but did not say it was a Picasso".
Minister of Cultural Heritage Dario Franceschini told reporters that "it is necessary to wait for the investigation to know who it belongs to" and only then will work's fate be decided.
General Mariano Mossa, who presented the recovered painting in a press conference in Rome, proclaimed that it has "exceptional artistic relevance".