Stolen art works recovered after 42 years thanks to app available to public

The stolen Renaissance panels Credit: Guardia Civil

The Guardia Civil has recovered two Renaissance panels stolen in 1979 from a church in Zamora, Castilla y León, thanks to an app developed by INTERPOL.

In a statement issued today, Thursday, April 7, the Guardia Civil said it had recovered two Renaissance panels stolen from the main altarpiece of the church of Santa Marina de Barcial del Barco, Zamora, more than forty years after their disappearance.

The two panels were stolen in September 1979 and depict Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Peter on one of them, and Saint Andrew and Saint James the Greater on the other.

The panels were recovered thanks to the good faith of the current owner, who handed them over when he realised that they were two objects that had been stolen, using the visual search of the ID-Art mobile application.

Thanks to the application’s state-of-the-art image recognition software, the photograph could be checked against the database and the panels were identified as being included in INTERPOL’s Stolen Works of Art Database.

The application, which is available to the public free of charge and allows access to INTERPOL’s Stolen Works of Art database via mobile phone, contains more than 52,000 art objects from 134 member countries.

ID-Art can be used by police, customs officials, the general public, private collectors, art dealers, journalists, students or art lovers for the following purposes:

To create an inventory of private art collections.
To report the theft of an object.
Report endangered cultural sites or illicit excavations.

“This example is a good illustration of the possibilities offered by technology for locating stolen objects, making it difficult to sell cultural property and allowing its recovery despite the years that have passed”, the Guardia Civil said in the statement.

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Written by

Fergal MacErlean

Originally from Dublin, Fergal is based on the eastern Costa del Sol and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]