Embassy Archives 2014
Stolen Painting Returns to Poland
16 April 2014
A painting stolen from Poland in 1996 was returned to Warsaw on Tuesday, thanks to cooperation between the Polish Ministry of Culture and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The 18th century painting, titled “Ascension of Jesus Christ,” had been in the possession of St. Martin’s Parish Church in Siciny in southwestern Poland from 1988 to 1996 when it was discovered missing and added to the Polish Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s database for lost and stolen art.
The painting was recovered as a result of an investigation carried out in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
In a ceremony attended by U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Douglas Greene, Deputy Minister of Culture and General Conservator Piotr Żuchowski, and a DHS delegation led by Deputy Director of International Affairs David Thompson, the painting was officially returned to Poland at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
“One of the most essential duties any government has to its people is to ensure the protection and preservation of the country’s national heritage. The Polish Ministry of Culture has worked tirelessly to recover its stolen national treasures for the benefit of present and future generations,” said DCM Greene. “The United States has long been committed to helping Poland in this effort, and today’s ceremony is an important symbol of that support. As always, you can count on the United States to do whatever we can to assist you.”
In October 2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security received information from Poland’s Ministry of Culture regarding the painting, which was listed for sale on the online auction site eBay. After a subsequent investigation, the painting was confirmed as being stolen from Poland, and was seized by DHS officers.