Stolen Ethiopian Saint John Painting Turns Up at Paris Auction


A 17th century Ethiopian painting stolen from Paris’ Musée de l’Homme sometimes before 1989 has been withdrawn from an auction organized by Maison Piasa, the Figaroreports.

The piece, which represents Saint John, was spotted by academic Jacques Mercier. It had disappeared from the museum’s collection before its transfer to the newly-built Quai Branly.

Originally exhibited in a church, the painting was collected in 1932 by the ethnologist Marcel Griaule during the Dakar-Djibouti mission. Griaule had argued that the decrepit church was unsuitable to host these precious pictures, and obtained from the local ecclesiastic authorities the authorization to replace them with oil copies.

At the time, the Ethiopian foreign affairs minister complained about the pieces’ removal, but the Emperor backed the French.

The work was bought by the wife of the consignor, painter Joaquin Ferrer, at a flea market in the 1990s. No further information on the theft has been released at this stage.

The painting will join the eleven other saints still held in the Quai Branly collection.