Spanish Citizen Arrested in Tenerife for Stealing Artworks from Swedish Churches

Wood carvings seized during the police operationPhoto via: Spanish Police
Wood carvings seized during the police operation
Photo via: Spanish Police

Police in Spain have arrested a 63-year-old Spaniard in his home in the Canary Island of Tenerife for allegedly stealing dozens of antique artworks from Swedish churches.

According to a press release issued by Spanish police, 43 works of art and artifacts—including an 18th-century bible, four 15th-century wood carvings, candelabra, and trays—have been seized.

The arrest is the result of a joint operation between Spain, Sweden, Germany, and Denmark. Swedish authorities tipped off Spanish police that the man was the prime suspect in recent investigations of art thefts.

During the operation, four additional wood carvings—which have been sold through an auction house in Madrid—were also recovered.

The man had previously served a five-year prison sentence for similar offences in Sweden, where he was known in the media as “the ravager of Swedish churches.” He is now expected to be extradited to Sweden.

Investigators said the man also had a storage room in Denmark, where further pieces of art allegedly stolen from Swedish churches were found.

Earlier this year, another Spanish citizen was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing the Codex Calixtinus, a priceless 12th-century illuminated manuscript from the Santiago de Compostela cathedral in Galicia, northern Spain (see Spanish Electrician Who Stole Priceless Manuscript and €2.4 Million from Santiago Cathedral Gets 10 Years).

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