Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The permission came from General Roberto Conforti, head of the Art Squad of the Italian Carabinieri, but it was not clear whether or not the review of the export licences and the manner in which they were applied for had been completed.

The Italian authorities had asked for a 35-day moratorium following the sale following objections apparently to the method of export licence applications, which were made to several regional centres rather than one where they could have been assessed as a whole instead of individually.

The 23 pieces, which had either a provenance or connections to the House of Savoy – the former Royal family of Italy – or were examples of Piedmontese or North Italian workmanship, were thought by some to have too important a cultural significance to have been allowed out of the country.