The tyre-maker Michelin has issued an amnesty which it hopes will lead to the return of three striking stained glass windows which once graced the Michelin House building in London.
The windows were removed at the beginning of the Second World War in 1939 and transported to Michelin's UK factory in Stoke-on-Trent for safekeeping but they were found to be missing during an audit in 1948. Now, Michelin is hoping that the windows can be recovered in time for the centenary of the opening of Michelin House, which falls next year.
There were, apparently, rumours of sightings of the windows in the 1960s but so far no part of them has turned up. It is thought unlikely that the individual panes making up each window have been reused separately in another context as the large single image of Bibendum which each window depicts would have been lost in the process. Bibendum, or the Michelin Man as he is more commonly known in Britain, is one of the world's most famous and enduring corporate symbols, so the windows may have ended up in the hands of a wealthy collector. There is a huge market for Bibendum-related items; one large private collection was recently auctioned off for some EUR 200,000, although the large windows from Michelin House would probably be unsaleable.
With the passage of time and the issuing of the Michelin amnesty, the feeling is that it may now be time for those who know what happened to the windows to unburden themselves, allowing the long-running mystery to be solved.
Michelin House was used by Michelin until 1985; it was subsequently redeveloped and is now partly occupied by Sir Terence Conran's famous Bibendum restaurant. The original windows were carefully copied, so visitors to the restored building can still enjoy the unusual designs, which can be seen here.
Michelin has also set up a confidential hotline for anyone who wants to provide information about the whereabouts of the windows: 01782 402118.