Jesus Garcia CaleroSEGUIR Updated: Save Send news by mail electrónicoTu name *

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Yesterday, died in Malaga at 80 years old, the person called René Alphonse van den Berghe, a man of friendly face and life fast-paced that has gone down in history as Erik “the belgian”. We talk about one of the greatest thieves of art that is recuer dan, whose footprint in Spain is a sad story of repeated depredations that caused major damage to our heritage, facts that he spent the whole life trying to sweeten.

it Was a thief series , who tried to sweeten their theft with the story of that in the background were orders -as if that will exculpara or the back inexorable – and with the story of how well the collectors without scruples took care of the works for which he had been commissioned to steal. is All around the theft acquired a patina of adventure and innocence characteristic of the hunters. Sympathetic and smiling, won over many journalists to come out well in the media, in interviews and documentaries, as if it were a good thief. But its wake is the more harmful to the patrimionio Spanish and european you can imagine. There is No way to endulzarla.

he was Born in Nivelles (Belgium) in 1940, and he died yesterday after suffering a heart attack at the age of 80 due to complications from an operation on his leg, according to released his wife. Was diabetic and cardiópata decades ago. He was in the Congo war and that’s why he liked to be called “a mercenary of beauty” . In reality, that training became relentless . And your knowledge of the art -had been antique shop – in a perfect blend to authenticate and distracting pieces without fear of failure.

After a career full of burglaries and shopping more or less legal in the that the figures form a dense mist of millions changing hands and borders , in 1966 Erik “the belgian” was arrested when he was trying to steal the Beatus of Liébana in the cathedral of El Burgo de Osma (Soria). In 1976 he returned to be arrested and was sentenced to 10 years of prison in Belgium , but soon after escaped from the prison of Verviers.

Malaga would be their golden retirement after settling their accounts with justice. is Managed to live as a retiree more and enjoy the money whose provenance should be assumed, although this cannot be explained with supporting evidence.

we will Never know the truth. Tons of art, thousands, countless strikes -many not recognized- stripped Spain of fundamental parts of the heritage. Paint Virgins and smile in the media will not be able to erase the blight left behind. is Not denounced the lack of security measures for churches and monasteries, was taking advantage of her. Did a lot of damage to the image of Spain -often spoke of servants and pastors who are corrupt, after corromperlos in his adventures-all at the service of his own image as the hero of the film. Even bragged about both of collaborating with the Police as a fool to museums seeking your “expertise” . Also spoke of the evil that they were works in their places of worship -something that could be true in many cases but does not justify the theft – in order to transform their shenanigans in alternative actions that ended with restoration of the pieces.

The region punished for his theft was Castile and León , but also looted the temple of Aragón, Navarra, The Rioja and Catalonia. Bought it when it was able to work to the clergy, as part of sacred art of the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Calahorra. He is credited with the theft of the tables of Pedro Berruguete in the church of Santa Eulalia de Paredes de Nava (Palencia) or the subtraction in Baltanás (Palencia) of the Virgin of Revilla. He blamed the interventions in Tordesillas, Medina del Campo, Stove Eresma, Toro, Frómista, Castrojeriz, Santa María de Huerta. All of them towns of Palencia, Valladolid, Burgos, Zamora and Soria.

After one of the big hits in 1979, in Roda de Isábena , in the looted the Chair of San Ramon, along with 50 other pieces of romanesque, was detained. To change the probation said that the would return, but not to go your band shattered the piece, one of the furniture most ancient of Europe. That work rota belies his legend. How much he stole? Missing thousands of works that will never appear. A tapestry of the same church was regained by the Civil Guard in 2013, thanks to the denunciation of the historian Carmen Berlabé.

In 1982 he decided to turn himself in. He ended up in the Model prison of Barcelona . After 35 months and 1,500 works returned, he left the prison in 1985, being acquitted of the 14 lawsuits pending.

he Titled his memoir “For the love of art” and he cultivated his good image. Do not deceive us. That falsehood cannot delete your legacy of damage to the Spanish heritage.