Jan van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece is on any art historian's list of the 10 most important paintings ever made. Often referred to by the subject of its central panel, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, it represents the fulcrum between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It is also the most frequently stolen artwork of all time.
Since its completion in 1432, this 12-panel oil painting has been looted in three different wars, burned, dismembered, forged, smuggled, illegally sold, censored, hidden, attacked by iconoclasts, hunted by the Nazis and Napoleon, used as a diplomatic tool, ransomed, rescued by Austrian double-agents, and stolen a total of 13 times. In this fast-paced, real-life thriller, art historian Noah Charney unravels the stories of each of these thefts. In the process, he illuminates the whole fascinating history of art crime and the psychological, ideological, religious, political, and social motivations that have led many men to covet this one masterpiece above all others.
©2010 Noah Charney (P)2010 Tantor