Perfect art theft: Where is 'Ghent Altarpiece'?
"GHENT, Belgium — The main suspect in the legendary art heist is said to have whispered with his dying breath: "Only I know where the 'Adoration' is ..."
More than seven decades later, the whereabouts of a panel belonging to one of Western art's defining works, the "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb," also known as the "Ghent Altarpiece," remains a mystery.
If the stunning heist of Picasso, Monet and Matisse paintings in Rotterdam, Netherlands, last month focused attention on the murky world of art theft, the gothic Saint Bavo cathedral in Ghent has been at the center of a crime that has bedeviled the art world for decades.
"The Just Judges" panel of the Van Eyck brothers' multi-panel Gothic masterpiece hasn't been seen since 1934, when chief suspect Arsene Goedertier suffered a stroke at a political rally and died after murmuring those fateful words to a confidant.
The theft has kept the country enthralled ever since, with its heady mix of priceless art and scintillating detective story.
Ghent was hit by two thefts on the night of April 10, 1934: "One was a wheel of cheese," said detective Jan De Kesel. "The other was the panel."
That slowed up the investigation of the art theft, in which a minor panel of the "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" representing St. John the Baptist, was also lifted.
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