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Church buys back statue stolen in 1976

Feb. 20, 2013 at 12:04 PM

GRONSVELD, Netherlands, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- A Netherlands church said it was able to buy back a statue stolen in 1976 when it turned up recently at a Sotheby's auction in London.

Jacques van Rensch, a member of the church council for St. Martinuskerk in Gronsveld, said the statue of St. Agatha was stolen 37 years ago and the church discovered it was due to be auctioned three weeks before it was scheduled to go on the block at Sotheby's, DutchNews.nl reported Wednesday.

"We had money in our savings account," van Rensch said. "We used that to buy the statue, but we will try and get the money back through subsidies and sponsoring."

The church did not disclose the amount paid for the statue.

The statue was created by Limburg sculptor Jan van Steffieswert, who died in 1530.

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