The U.S. government has just returned a rare 16th century Spanish tapestry some 34 years after it was stolen from the Aragon, Spain national cathedral.
The 4 foot by 8 foot tapestry was created around the 1500’s and used as an altar piece at the Roda de Isabena cathedral in Aragon, Spain. The tapestry is considered the ‘cultural property’ of Spain and was deemed a national treasure by royal decree in 1924.
The tapestry depicts Virgin Mary with baby Jesus watched over by Spanish saints – St. Raymond, St. Vincent of Saragossa and St. Valerius. The art piece was stolen in 1979 allegedly by international art thief Rene Alphonse Van den Berghe (aka Erik the Belgian).
Apparently the tapestry traveled from Spain to Milan then resurfaced for sale in Belgium in 2010. At the Brussels Antiques and Fine Arts Fair the tapestry sold to a Houston entity for $369,000. When the historic piece of art arrived in the U.S. Spanish authorities urged the U.S. government to seize the tapestry, which they did.
Today in a ceremony at the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C. the tapestry was returned to Spain.