The Mystery of the Missing Maddona…
Madonna Under the Fir Tree (1510, but may have actually have been painted in Vienna between 1500-04), by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the pine, the fir and the cypress together, to adorn the place of my sanctuary. Isaiah 60:13 (NIV)
The painting, which had been hanging in the Cathedral of St. John in Wroclaw, Poland since the 16th Century, was in the process of being restored in 1946 (look closely to see where it was broken in half). A German priest and amateur art collector, Siegfried Zimmer, was in charge of the restoration project. Instead, he made a forgery of the painting and slipped away to Berlin with the original, leaving the counterfeit behind. It was not until 1961 that the hoax was discovered. From that point on, the painting was held privately until 2012 when negotiations began for its recovery and return. In the summer of 2012, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Poland finally negotiated the return of the original to the Wroclaw Cathedral.