William Veres is in trouble...

In 2018 he was arrested following the largest ever investigation by the Italian police’s art squad. They accuse him of running a pan-European art-smuggling ring with ties to the Sicilian mafia. He is alleged to have stolen $40 million worth of art and antiquities from Italy. Charged with 14 counts, including money laundering, forgery, wire fraud and conspiracy, he faces a jail term of up to 20 years.

But he has a plan to get out of trouble.

In this four-part podcast, host Simon Willis follows him as he puts that plan into action. It’s a story that takes listeners deep into the underworld, and into the dark heart of the most famous criminal organization of them all – Cosa Nostra.

It is a story of drug dealers, hitmen, smugglers, spies – even a corrupt prime minister.

And in the middle of it all is William Veres’s quest to save himself.

How? By solving the coldest cold case in the history of art crime – the theft of Caravaggio’s Nativity.


Episode 1

The Nativity

An allegedly simple coin dealer is accused of leading a notorious art smuggling ring. But he has an audacious plan to prove his innocence & redeem himself.

William Veres is arrested in a dawn raid – one of 50 simultaneous raids across Europe to bust his criminal gang. To get out of trouble he agrees a deal with Italian anti-mafia police: if he can help them solve the coldest cold case in the history of art theft, they will help him in his own case. In this episode we follow Veres as he begins his quest to find Caravaggio’s Nativity, believed to be in the hands of Cosa Nostra.

Episode 2

The Go-Between

To find the Caravaggio, Veres needs to find the people who may know where it is – no matter how dangerous they could be.

Veres goes to Belgium to meet a contact who he believes can help him obtain vital information about the Caravaggio painting. The contact agrees to act as Veres’s go-between, connecting Veres with senior figures in the mafia hierarchy. Meanwhile, host Simon Willis delves into the past investigations of the case, and finds out why the official investigation went nowhere: it was closed down after it uncovered links between the Caravaggio theft and mafiosi linked to Italian politics.

Episode 3

Money for Nothing

A tip-off leads to a strangely familiar sounding painting – could Veres be hot on the trail of the Caravaggio?

Veres gets word that the mafia are willing to talk about returning stolen art. He meets a group of middlemen in Naples, who tell him there’s a canvas on offer. As Veres negotiates the return of the painting, we begin to doubt Veres and Brand’s account of how they recover stolen art. It looks like they risk breaking the law to get the painting back. In his quest to get himself out of trouble, is Veres getting himself deeper into it?

Episode 4

The Fugitive

Can Veres find the Caravaggio and stay out of jail or is he doomed to the hand of fate?

Veres receives some photographs of parts of the Caravaggio canvas. He follows the lead to a source in Belgium, who is close to the Sicilian mafia. The source provides crucial new information about what happened to the painting. And it points to one man: a mafioso who has been on the run for thirty years.

Get ad-free, early listening by subscribing to Brazen+

Start Your Free Trial Now