Metal and paint, 40 × 180 × 25 cm.
On October 18, 1969, the Oratory of Saint Lawrence in Palermo, Sicily was robbed, and in place of The Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence by Caravaggio was an empty frame, cut cleanly without a trace of paint, proof of professional targeted execution rather than a simple robbery. The painting has not been seen since its disappearance.
The national scandal that broke loose thereafter led to a widespread investigation that involved a trail of informants culminating in dead ends. The suspects are to this day the Sicilian mafia, who is rumored to have stolen the masterpiece as a glory prize.
Gaspare Spatuzza, a Sicilian assassin-turned-regent mafioso who later became a police informant, revealed to authorities that the painting was initially hidden in a barn in Palermo, but was eaten by rats and hogs over time and therefore burned. The credibility of this claim stands in question, and the painting remains one of the most infamous cases of stolen works to this day.