Polish museum retrieves stolen 16th century icon

Tomasz Waszczuk/PAP

A 16th century icon depicting Archangel Michael was brought back to the Museum of Warmia & Mazury in Olsztyn, north-eastern Poland, more than three decades after being stolen.

The icon was stolen from the Olsztyn castle, the museum site, in 1990. Many years later, in July 2020, it was located in a German icon museum in Recklinghausen by Mariusz Wiśniewski, a Polish Culture Ministry employee.

"Scanning works of art around the world and looking for works that were looted or stolen in Poland is my duty," Wiśniewski said.

The Olsztyn museum communicated the news to the Recklinghausen museum through the Polish ministry, quoting an EU directive on the restitution of stolen works of art.

"It was for the first time in Europe that this procedure was applied, and thanks to the kindness of the Recklinghausen museum... lengthy court procedures were avoided," Elżbieta Rogowska, a Culture Ministry director responsible for stolen art, said at a restitution ceremony.