Church bell stolen from Hungary 21 years ago found in US antique store

October 20. 2022. – 02:35 PM



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As part of a Hungarian-American cooperation, after twenty-one years, the stolen bell of the Jásztelek chapel in Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County, has returned to Hungary from the United States, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs said.

The bell, stolen more than two decades ago, could be returned to the village within days, the state news agency, MTI reported.

The old bell which was manufactured in 1937, was stolen from the tower of the chapel of the Blessed Virgin of Havas in Jásztelek in September 2001. The investigation conducted at the time did not produce a result. More than twenty years passed until a member of the Hungarian community in the state of Louisiana noticed the bell decorated with a familiar text in an antique store.

From this point on, the Hungarian diplomatic corps and the FBI got involved and set up an investigative team which first identified and then confiscated the bell of the Jásztelek chapel which was thought to have been lost.

The background to the case is that in February 2022, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFA), and then through the Artifacts Protection Unit, the Hungarian police received a notification that a bell of unknown origin "with an inscription from Jásztelek", had turned up in the US art trade.

The art surveillance authority managed to prove the theft and unauthorized export of the bell from the country, and collected documents and declarations related to the ownership of the piece. These were then made available to the US investigative authorities. The FBI was eventually able to seize the stolen bell in cooperation with the Hungarian police's Artifacts Protection Unit.

The translation of this article was made possible by our cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

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