Bamberg, Germany - Four old-master paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) have been discovered in a German antique dealership, 27 years after thieves ripped them from a church in communist-run East Germany. The fold-out pictures on wood, each about 1 metre tall, apparently depict the birth of Saint John the Baptist.
The set would be worth several hundred thousand euros, art experts said. The thieves who took the paintings from the Lutheran church at Klieken near Wittenberg in 1980 were never caught.
The dealer had bought the colourful unsigned paintings on wood without suspecting they were stolen or by Cranach, the police said. An art expert noticed them on July 18 while shopping.
According to art professors consulted by detectives in Bamberg, only four or five experts in Germany could recognize Cranach's full range of work, so the dealer's ignorance was not surprising.