SPOTLIGHT: Seneca, attributed to Rubens

On January 8, 2006, thieves broke into the City Museum of Novi Sad, tied up the guards, and made off with four paintings: Rembrandt's Portrait of the Father; Night Landscape with a Fisherman, a miniature by Pier Francesco Mola; an unattributed 16th century Dutch or German Head of Christ painting; and Seneca by Peter Paul Rubens.

It was a big loss for the museum, located about 30 miles north of Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro's capital city. Works by Rembrandt and Rubens are among the crown jewels of any museum, and for the national spirit, which was fresh off of a turbulent eight-year period of war, it had to be a crushing blow. Police officials didn't initially put a price tag on the loss, stating only the obvious: they were "valuable."

In March 2013, police made an important announcement: four individuals had been arrested for the crime, and the Rembrandt had been recovered. However, even with that happy news came an acknowledgment that the painting likely wasn't truly a Rembrandt, with the original believed to be hanging in the Tyrolean State Museum in Innsbruck, Austria. The painting is quite unlucky, having been stolen twice in 10 years. Nevertheless, a BBC report placed the value of Portrait of the Father at around $4 million (US).

Unfortunately, the Rubens Seneca remains missing, along with the other two works.

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