Finally, Spanish cops recover final piece of 17th-century tapestry after 42 years

WION Web Team
Madrid Updated: Feb 22, 2022, 02:46 PM(IST)

The final piece of a 17th-century tapestry has been recovered by Spanish police. Photograph:( Twitter )

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Although all six tapestries were recovered by Interpol after an investigation in Spain, France and Belgium, a lower lefthand section of The Apotheosis of the Arts, which depicted a cherub, had been feared lost for over four decades. The fragment was found when Ángel Alcaraz, a cop engaged in an academic study of art thefts, got in touch with Van den Berghe’s lawyer, who managed to find it. The lawyer handed over the piece to police and it was finally returned to the archdiocese of Burgos on last Friday

A 17th-century tapestry is complete again as its final piece, which was stolen by a notorious art thief around 42 years ago, has been recovered by Spanish police.  

The tapestry, which is known as La apoteosis de las artes (The Apotheosis of the Arts), is 4-metre by 6.5-metre in size.  

It was one of six Flemish tapestries, which were taken from the church of Santo Domingo in the town of Castrojeriz in northern Spain, on November 7, 1980.  

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The pieces, which were made by a Rubens follower, Corneille Schutz, in Bruges in 1654, were stolen by René Alphonse van den Berghe.  

Although all six tapestries were recovered by Interpol after an investigation in Spain, France and Belgium, a lower lefthand section of The Apotheosis of the Arts, which depicted a cherub, had been feared lost for over four decades.  

Van den Berghe, who was a Belgian art dealer, had died in Málaga in 2020. Berghe is also known as Erik the Belgian in Spain.   

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The fragment was found when Ángel Alcaraz, a cop engaged in an academic study of art thefts, got in touch with Van den Berghe’s lawyer, who managed to find it. The lawyer handed over the piece to police and it was finally returned to the archdiocese of Burgos on last Friday.

“If heaven should lack one angel it would be a lesser heaven. And if this tapestry had lacked this little angel, it wouldn’t be the same tapestry. Today we are giving back to Castrojeriz something that should never have gone in the first place,” said Alcaraz.   

(With inputs from agencies) 

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