ROME, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Two stolen paintings by Vincent Van Gogh were seized in a criminal network linked to the mafia near Naples, Italian authorities said on Friday.
The two paintings, "Seascape at Scheveningen" and "Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen," had been stolen from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam in 2002.
Italy's financial police found them during an operation against drug trafficking on the coastal town of Castellammare di Stabia, which targeted a group affiliated to Naples-based Camorra mob, police said at a press conference.
Museum curators confirmed the authenticity of the two artworks, which would be worth around 100 million euros (111.6 million U.S. dollars), Ansa news agency reported.
Vincent Van Gogh, born in the Netherlands in 1853, is considered one of the greatest painters in history.
Despite a 14-year journey, the two stolen works appeared to be "in fairly good condition," the Amsterdam museum wrote in a statement published on its website.
"Both lack their frames and show signs of some damage. It is not yet clear when they will return to Amsterdam," it added.
The director of the museum, Axel Ruger, attended the press conference held in Naples on Friday, thanking Italian investigative authorities, Italian and Dutch police.
"I am very exited. The paintings have been found. That I would ever be able to pronounce these words is something I had no longer dared to hope for," Ruger said.
Italian authorities were also happy with the results, and praised investigators and police in Naples for their work. "This is an extraordinary recovery, which confirms the strength of Italy's action against antiquities trafficking," Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said.
"The result of this operation also confirms the high interest criminal organizations put in artworks, which are being used both as way of investment and as source of financing," the minister added.
The operation was launched by prosecutors of regional Anti-Mafia District Directorate in Naples against 41-year-old fugitive Camorra boss Raffaele Imperiale, and brought to the seizure of various other assets worth some 20 millions euros, authorities explained.
One of his former accomplices, now turned repentant, helped the police locate and retrieve the two paintings, local media reported.
The artworks are both of small size, and were showed at the press conference.
"Seascape at Scheveningen" is a landscape Van Gogh painted in 1882, while living in The Hague. The canvas is slightly damaged, according to the Amsterdam museum.
"Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Neunen" was painted in 1884-1885 for Van Gogh's mother, and "looks undamaged at first sight, apart from a few minor damages at the edges of the canvas," the museum stated.