Painting possibly by Michelangelo stolen from a church in Belgium

Artive Theft Alert

14 January 2019

A valuable painting attributed to Michelangelo or Venusti, one of his students, has been stolen from the Church of St Ludgerus in Zele, Belgium.

The 16th century wood painting, entitled “Madonna del Silenzio”, depicts the Holy Family with John the Baptist as a child. It measures 145 x 99 cm without its frame.

The theft and main suspect

The theft took place on the morning of Friday 11 January, between 05.00 and 06.00. The thief broke into the church through the sacristy.

A witness reported seeing a young man acting suspiciously at the doors at the back of the church early on the morning of Thursday 10 January (between 05.00 and 05.20).

The suspect is described as aged between 17 and 20, wearing dark clothing and carrying a dark-coloured backpack.

Appeal for witnesses and information

If you have any information about the circumstances of the theft or the current location of this painting, please contact the INTERPOL General Secretariat or the Belgian Federal Police at