Hubert and Jan van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb has been described as the “most stolen artwork of all time”, after disappearing multiple times since its conception in the 15th century. First, the 12-panel piece was nearly burned by the Calvinists, then it was stolen by Napoleon, and then taken yet again during World War I. The panel, depicting the so-called Just Judges, was stolen from the Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium in April 1934, and more than 85 years later its whereabouts remains unknown.
The other 11 panels have since returned to the Belgian cathedral, having been stolen yet again during World War II. The suspected thief of the remaining panel, Arsène Goedertier, was denied the one million Belgian francs he asked for in ransom money and refused to reveal where he had hidden the artwork even as he lay on his deathbed. The latest update in the case is that experts believe the painting could lie beneath one of the major squares in Ghent, but the location hasn’t been investigated further as authorities are reluctant to dig up the paving stones. Until they change their minds, the disappearance of the Just Judges panel remains a mystery.