×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Murdoch-Owned Sky Paybox Mixes Philanthropy And Production With ‘Operation Caravaggio’

ROME – In a masterful mix of philanthropy, marketing, and filmmaking, Murdoch-owned pan-European Sky paybox is taking its cue from a stolen 17th Caravaggio painting on the FBI’s Top Ten Art Crimes list to launch the first high-profile production from its new Milan-based Sky Arts Production Hub.

Caravaggio’s “Nativity With St. Francis and St. Lawrence” was mysteriously abducted from a Palermo church in 1969, some say by the Sicilian Mafia.

Shortly after being established earlier this year in May, the Sky Arts hub commissioned a meticulous high-tech reproduction of the painting and at the same time started production on a documentary titled “Operation Caravaggio – Mystery of the Lost Caravaggio.”

The docu is about the various hypothesis behind the theft, the origins of the masterpiece painted by Caravaggio in 1609 after he fled to Sicily after killing another artist in a duel, and also how the certified copy was made by Factum Arte, a Madrid-based company know for making hi-tech facsimiles of major artworks including the tomb of Tutankhamun.

This December 12 the replica of the lost Caravaggio was hung back in the spot above the altar in Palermo’s Oratorio della Compagnia di San Lorenzo from which the original had been abducted 46 years earlier during a highly symbolic ceremony attended by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, a former magistrate from Sicily whose brother was gunned down the Mafia in 1980.

Among the various hypothesis surrounding the theft “there is a strong suspicion that it ended up in the hands of Cosa Nostra, based on several accounts,” said Roberto Pisoni, head of the Sky Arts Production Hub. According to one acccount “‘onetime Boss of All Bosses’ Toto Riina showed it off during Cosa Nostra meetings,” he added.

The replica was made by a team of architects and computer engineers at Factum Arte who did not have much to go on: just a slide of the painting by photographer Enzo Brai, which did not even capture the entire painting, and some black and white photographs of the Caravaggio work from the 1950s that were recently discovered in the archives of the Restoration Institute in Rome.

The layered digital print facsimile (pictured) replicates Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro palette and surface texture and is the same size as the original.

When Pisoni found out that Factum Arte had been exploring the possibility of doing the replica he said: “Wow! I want to do a documentary about this, finance the restoration of the painting, and give it back to the City of Palermo,” he recounted.

“Operation Caravaggio,” co-produced with Ballandi Arts and directed by Emanuele Flangini, will be beamed simultaneously in an as yet unspecified end-of-January slot on Sky Arts channels across the five European countries, including the UK, Italy and Germany, where Sky has some 21 million subs.

 

 

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • NBCUNIVERSAL LOGOS -- Pictured: "E!" Logo

    NBCUniversal Cable Hit With Significant Layoffs

    Another round of layoffs are set to impact NBCUniversal’s E!, Bravo, Oxygen, USA and Syfy networks Thursday, a source familiar with the situation tells Variety, not long after the E! network laid off around 20-25 staff in August. This round of layoffs is likely to impact fewer than 45 employees, more than last month’s news [...]

  • Peaky Blinders Season 5

    Time-Jumping Season 5 of 'Peaky Blinders' Aims for a More Cinematic Look

    Cinematographer Si Bell was thrilled to learn he and director Anthony Byrne had been tapped to shoot the fifth season of BBC’s “Peaky Blinders,” but surprised to find out how free a hand executive producers Caryn Mandabach and Jamie Glazebrook were giving them to determine the scheme of their six-episode run. “I expected to meet the [...]

  • Daniel Levy Schitts Creek

    'Schitt's Creek' Co-Creator Dan Levy Signs ABC Studios Overall Deal

    “Schitt’s Creek” breakout Dan Levy has signed a multi-year overall deal at ABC Studios. Under the deal, Levy will develop and produce scripted projects for the studio. “Dan Levy has proven himself as one of the most creative people in the TV business,” said Jonnie Davis, president of ABC Studios. “His writing, acting and producing [...]

  • Barry Bill Hader

    Emmys 2019: Clear Favorites and Top Challengers for This Year's Winners (Column)

    If this felt like the longest, most expensive Emmy campaign in history, you might be right. For one thing, the 2019 Primetime Emmys will be held Sept. 22, which is the latest the ceremony has taken place since 2013. That also happened to be the last year of TV’s quaint, pre-streaming era, before outlets like [...]

  • AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- "Live Results

    TV Ratings: 'America's Got Talent' Finale Draws 10 Million Viewers

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on if you have not seen the season 14 finale of “America’s Got Talent.” The finale of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which saw blind, autistic singer Kodi Lee crowned the winner, drew almost exactly 10 million viewers for the Peacock on Wednesday night. Bolstered by a robust, velvety Cher performance, [...]

  • Ava-Mark-Split

    Ava DuVernay, Mark Ruffalo Selected for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Honors

    Ava DuVernay and Mark Ruffalo have been selected by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for its fourth Annual Patron of the Artists Awards. The awards will be presented on Nov. 7 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The show benefits the nonprofit SAG-AFTRA Foundation and is not televised. Previous SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the [...]

  • Programme Name: The Cry - TX:

    Brazil, U.K. Lead International Emmy Awards Nominations

    Brazil and the U.K. lead the pack in this year’s International Emmy Awards nominations, which span 21 countries across 11 categories. Titles and talent from Britain and Brazil will vie with other hopefuls for the trophy in five categories: drama, best performance by an actor, best performance by an actress, arts programming and documentary. Brazilian [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content