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Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece
An old photo from 1934 taken the morning of the discovery of the theft of the Righteous Judges panel from the altarpiece.

NEW YORK, NY.- Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece is, without any question, one of the most important paintings ever made. Finished in 1432, it was the first piece to demonstrate the astounding versatility of oil painting, which would become the preferred medium by painters for 500 years. Astonishingly, it is also the most desired artwork of all time. Since its completion in 1432, this twelve-panel oil painting has been the victim of thirteen separate crimes, including seven separate thefts; it has been looted in three different wars, burned, forged, smuggled, illegally sold, hidden, hunted by Napoleon and then the Nazis, ransomed, and rescued by Austrian double-agents. (The runner-up, a portrait by Rembrandt, has been stolen only four times.) In STEALING THE MYSTIC LAMB, leading art crime expert Noah Charney chronicles the larger-than-life story of The Ghent Altarpiece’s 600 years of near constant movement and explores what drove so many to desire this artwork above all others.

While safe again in Belgium’s Saint Bavo Cathedral, The Ghent Altarpiece is still an unfinished story; there are unanswered questions surrounding its history, in particular the unsolved theft of the Righteous Judges panel in 1934. However, fresh insight might be imminent. The Getty Foundation and Museum in Los Angeles recently announced plans for a complete restoration of the piece, and such up-close inspection might finally yield some answers.

Saint Bavo Cathedral will probably never be robbed again, but art theft continues to make headlines today. In 2006, Charney founded the first organization to focus exclusively on art crime, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art. An international industry valued as high as $6 billion a year, art theft still represents the largest black market behind drugs and weapons trafficking and ultimately, only 10% of all crimes are solved. STEALING THE MYSTIC LAMB tells the dramatic story of the ultimate prize—the most coveted piece of artwork of all time.

NOAH CHARNEY is the author of the international bestselling novel The Art Thief and the founding director of The Association for Research into Crimes against Art, an international non-profit think tank. His work in the field of art crime has been praised in such forums as The New York Times Magazine, Time Magazine, Vanity Fair, Vogue, BBC Radio, and NPR. Currently professor of art history at the American University of Rome, he lives in Italy with his wife.

Today's News

January 19, 2011

Retrospective of the Leading Mexican Artist Gabriel Orozco on Display at Tate Modern

Rediscovered Painting by Dutch Artist Rembrandt on Loan at the Toledo Museum of Art

Kai Althoff's Punkt, Absatz, Bluemli (period, paragraph, Bluemli) at Gladstone Gallery

Rutger's Zimmerli Art Museum Returns Rare Renaissance Portrait to Rightful Owners

First British Portrait of a Black African Muslim and Freed Slave Goes on Display

John Hancock Tower in Boston Selected to Receive AIA Twenty-Five Year Award

Adjunct Curator at ICP, Okwui Enwezor, Appointed as Director of Haus der Kunst

Scale Model of the Warsaw Ghetto at the "From Holocaust to Revival" Museum

A Special Exhibition on the Phenomenon James Dean Opens at the Kennedys in Berlin

Social Documentary Photographer Milton Rogovin Dies at Age 101 in New York

Just a Few Months Before Opening, Minefields Circle Jesus' Traditional Baptism Site

Artists, Designers Join Forces for the Second Annual Green Auction at Christie's

The Wallace Collection Announces the Appointment of Dr. Christoph Vogtherr as New Director

Carlton Hobbs Presents Inspired by Antiquity: Classical Influences on 18th and 19th Century Furniture and Works of Art

Restoration Of The Much Loved Waterloo Poem by Sue Hubbard

Stunning Installation of New Oil Paintings by Carlos Luna at Heather James Fine Art

Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece

The Enduring Beauty of Jewelry Across the Ages Dazzles in Newark Museum's Lore Ross Jewelry Gallery

A Dynamic Array of Art as Throngs Visit the Second Miami International Art Fair

Group Exhibition to Examine Art and Democracy in Europe

Art Madrid 2011 Maintains the Number of Galleries and Increases the Quality Level

Roxy Paine's Steel Sculpture Ferment to be Installed in Kansas City Sculpture Park

How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster? Documentary Traces the Rise of Norman Foster

After 30 Years at Sotheby's, Fergus Lyons Appointed as Head of Furniture at Bonhams

Brooklyn Museum Acquires 18th Century Painting by Agostino Brunias Depicting Colonial Elite

Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen Explores Possible Guggenheim Museum in Finland

O'Keeffiana: Art and Art Materials from the Extensive Collection of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Mixed-Media Artist Katya Bonnenfant Opens Second Exhibition Under New Moniker at Haines Gallery

Texas Foundation to Sell Matisse Set 'The Backs'

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Holocaust 'masterpiece' causes uproar at Venice film festival

2.- To be unveiled at Sotheby's: One of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled

3.- Bender Gallery features paintings by up and coming Chicago artist Michael Hedges

4.- Lévy Gorvy exhibits new and historic works by French master in his centenary year

5.- Artificial Intelligence as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist

6.- Fascinating new exhibition explores enduring artistic bond between Scotland and Italy

7.- Exhibition explores the process of Japanese-style woodblock production

8.- Robert Frank, photographer of America's underbelly, dead at 94

9.- The truth behind the legend of patriot Paul Revere revealed in a new exhibition at New-York Historical Society

10.- Hitler bust found in cellar of French Senate

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