a complaint for theft after the sale of stained glass 8 years ago

The Lumière sur le patrimoine association filed a complaint on Tuesday, September 12, for “theft and concealment of theft” after the auction, in 2015, of two 13th century stained glass windows which decorated the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral until the 19th century. The Banditry Repression Brigade (BRB) has been seized of the investigation, the Paris prosecutor’s office announced on Wednesday.

According to Philippe Machicote, president of the association, interviewed by Le Figaro, these stained glass windows were removed from Notre-Dame in 1862 during renovation work supervised by Viollet-le-Duc. They were then sold in the 19th century, before reappearing during a sale organized by Sotheby’s in 2015.

The association denounces the lack of vigilance of the Ministry of Culture which seemed to ignore both the disappearance of the stained glass windows and their subsequent sale. Convinced that the 2015 sale poses a significant heritage problem, Philippe Machicote created the Lumière sur le patrimoine association in July 2023, with the aim of preserving French cultural property and fighting against the loss of national heritage by actively helping to restitution of stolen works of art.

Sotheby’s, for its part, claims not to have been contacted by the association before filing the complaint and denies any irregularity. “Before putting these properties up for sale in 2015, extensive research was carried out and a detailed note was published in the sale catalogue”specifies the auction house. “We have also obtained all the necessary authorizations from the relevant authorities, including export authorizations. Experts and museum curators have been warned. »

According to Sotheby’s, the stained glass windows “were dismantled by Viollet-le-Duc in 1862, then sold by the master glassmaker Edouard Didron between 1877 and 1905”. They therefore do not come from a theft. The company specifies that “similar pieces, with the same provenance, are today part of the collection of the Museum of Art and History of Geneva”.

One of the stained glass windows, with a diameter of 39.5 cm, represents a ceremonial angel and comes from the rose window of the north arm of the transept of Notre-Dame de Paris. The second stained glass window represents a thuriferous angel (angel holding the censer), measures 42.5 cm and was made between 1250 and 1255. It forms a pair with the Ceroferary Angel. Estimated between 40,000 and 60,000 euros each at the time, they were sold for 111,000 and 123,000 euros respectively.

Their current location is not known. If the theft is proven, the Ministry of Culture could recover them because the stained glass windows belonged to the State in 1862.

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