Village buys back stolen statue

A church in the Limburg village of Gronsveld has bought back a statue stolen 37 years ago.

The statue of St Agatha was taken from the St Martinuskerk in 1976 and only recently rediscovered, in an auction at Sotheby’s in London.

With just three weeks between the auction announcement and the sale, the church needed to act quickly.

‘We had money in our savings account,’ church council member Jacques van Rensch told the Telegraaf. ‘We used that to buy the statue, but we will try and get the money back through subsidies and sponsoring.’

He did not say how much they paid.

The metre-tall statue is by the Limburg sculptor Jan van Steffieswert (1465-1530) who was one of the first craftsmen to sign his work. He is included in the Limburg canon of important events and people.