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'The Righteous Judges' Panel

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb painting
A detail from Huber and Jan van Eyck's storied and partially stolen 1432 painting "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb." DeAgostini/Getty Images

Few paintings are as celebrated as the "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb." Sometimes known as the "Ghent Altarpiece," it was made by the Flemish artist Hubert van Eyck and his brother Jan, whom history's nicknamed "The Father of Oil Painting." Their masterwork is a composite of 12 separate panels. Upon these, the Eycks reproduced — with amazing detail — an ensemble of Christian figures. Completed in 1432, the piece was displayed inside the St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium.

The "Ghent Altarpiece" has gone through a lot over the past half-millennium or so. We don't have the space to mention all of its adventures, but you may be interested to learn that the painting kickstarted the Northern Renaissance, got mixed up in a religious standoff and enjoyed a more than 1 million-euro restoration effort starting in 2012.

Also, a portion of it's been missing since the 1930s.

The lower left segment of the "Ghent Altarpiece" goes by two names: "The Righteous Judges" panel and "The Just Judges" panel. It features a group of stern-looking horse-riders — including two figures who might be self-portraits of the van Eycks.

During the night of April 10,1934, thieves broke into St. Bavo's and stole two panels. One, named after John the Baptist, was found within the year. The other lifted panel was "The Righteous Judges," which is still missing today. A ransom note was issued to the church, but the demanded sum was never paid in full, so the criminals didn't come forward. In 1945, a copy was put on display in the original's place. All these decades later, we still have no idea where the real "Righteous Judges" panel is — despite many attempts to hunt it down. (Even Joseph Goebbels tried in vain to locate the missing prize.)