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Monday, March 31, 2014

Close to finding Van Eyck's missing panel?

The St. Baaf's cathedral in Ghent (main city of the province of East Flanders and former capitals of the Counts of Flanders) houses one of the world's masterpieces in painting: 'The Lamb of God' by the brothers Van Eyck, in the Flemish Primitive style.

And perhaps some of you will also have heard about the theft of one of the side panels of this masterpiece? In the 1930s the curator of the church noticed that the panel 'De rechtvaardige rechters' (= the honest judges) was taken away.

Most probably the theft was commited by a man named Arsène Goedertier. He died without a confession. Since then, lots of people have been looking for the lost panel. They searched everywhere, and complot theories pop up frequently.

A couple of days ago, politician and historicus Paul de Ridder announced in the news he has strong suspicions the lost panel is in the property of a well-known and highstanding family in Ghent.

Two families have already announced they are not to blame - those who were under suspicion all those years ago already. 'De rechtvaardige rechters' are not in our property, they claim. These are just wild west stories.

True? We don't know, and most probably never will. If indeed someone high up in power has ordered Goedertier to steal the panel, he or she has locked it safely away and nobody won't find it. Here in Belgium that's the fashion. The higher a person is in society, the less chance they'll be tried for whatever crime. Not right, but that is how is is.

Personally I think those who have the panel in property should return it to the cathedral, and they should rightly have to live with the shame of having a thief in their family.

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