According to a museum statement, the paintings, dated 1882 and 1885, "were recovered during a massive, continuing investigation commissioned by the Italian Public Prosecutions Department, conducted by a specialized Guardia di Finanza team, the team investigating organized crime."
The FBI reportedly assigned the paintings a combined value of $30 million in 2005.
The two artworks were found in the basement of a villa belonging to Raffaele Imperiale, a drug dealer now believed hiding in the United Arab Emirates. Italian authorities have requested his extradition from the UAE. The operation was part of a larger investigation into Amato Pagano, an international drug smuggling group.
"After all those years you no longer dare to count on a possible return," said Ruger. "It is really a major step that the paintings have been found."
They have been proven authentic and eventually will be returned to the museum, but only after serving as evidence for the criminal trial in Italy.