Ninety years after the art theft of the Just Judges: another ten years until a public court file | Domestic

Ninety years after the art theft of the Just Judges: another ten years until a public court file | Domestic
Ninety years after the art theft of the Just Judges: another ten years until a public court file | Domestic

The art theft of the ‘Just Judges’, a panel from ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by the Van Eyck brothers, will be ninety years ago next week. There are no longer any ongoing investigations or tips from amateur detectives, but the public release of the court file is still ten years away. This was learned from the East Flanders public prosecutor’s office and the State Archives, which digitized the entire file two years ago.

In the night of April 10 to 11, 1934, the ‘Just Judges’ panel from ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ was stolen from the Vijd Chapel of St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent. Then the grisaille of John the Baptist also disappeared, but it was later returned. Next Thursday will be the 90th anniversary of the theft of the ‘Just Judges’. The work remains missing to this day.

Digital file

The judicial investigation into the art theft is still ongoing, but the ninetieth anniversary of the theft has not led to any new leads regarding the find location. First Deputy King’s Attorney Caroline Dewitte of the East Flemish public prosecutor’s office, who manages the judicial file, says that it has also been quiet for a long time. “A few years ago I received emails with tips from amateur detectives, but that has stopped. The last real search dates from 2019 when a city guide believed that the panel could be located in a well near St. Bavo’s Cathedral.”

“The theories surrounding the site became more and more far-fetched,” says Dewitte. “The new thing is that the State Archives has digitized the entire file in a professional manner. The paper actually no longer allowed for much lapping.” The court file was digitized on CD-ROM by the federal police in 2003 due to the poor condition of the documents. The State Archives then created a completely new digital file in 2022, with more than 2,000 scans.

Future disclosure of court file

But just because the file now exists in digital form does not mean that it can be viewed by everyone due to data protection and the strict conditions attached to it, including anonymization. For legal reasons, the request to make the file generally public cannot be accepted. Granting access to the file for scientific research might be possible.

Currently, written permission from the Ghent Attorney General is still required to view documents younger than 100 years old. Within ten years, that condition would disappear and the file could therefore be placed online for the general public.

Also read:
Not an everyday job: art historian Kathleen from Ghent participates in the restoration of ‘The Mystic Lamb (+)

Expert who causes headaches for restorers of the Ghent Altarpiece launches a website about the painting: “A lamb with the head of Hubert and a body of Jan” (+)

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: years art theft Judges ten years public court file Domestic


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