Michelangelo stolen from Flemish Church?

Belgian police are hunting for a painting stolen from the Sint-Ludgerus Church in Zele (East Flanders) on Friday morning.  The work is believed to be possibly by Michelangelo or one of his pupils.

The work "Holy Family” dates from the 16th century.  It was stolen between 5AM and 6AM yesterday as it was about to be examined by an Italian expert in order to determine who actually painted it.

The painting resembles a work by Michelangelo in the Portland Collection, the collection of the English Duke of Portland. Marcello Venusti, a pupil of Michelangelo, made several copies that would be quite valuable today. The work shows Baby Jesus lying on his mother's lap while Joseph looks on. It has been hanging in the church for three decades, but during his Christmas sermon the local vicar mentioned that it was probably by an Italian master.

A young man aged between 17 and 20 is the main suspect.  He was seen wearing dark clothes and carrying a dark rucksack. The painting itself measures 1 metre 50.

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