Misplacing a 12m-long carpet, 27 statuettes and a conference table complete with 15 matching chairs without anybody noticing does not sound the easiest of tasks. But it emerged this week that officials in Madrid city hall have managed to do exactly that, together with another 170 or so works of art and antiques belonging to the capital.
Orders have been given to scour local museums for the missing artefacts, which range from a 2m-square 19th-century lamp and a silver candelabra worth 1.5m pesetas in 1945 – at the time a price of a small house – to wall clocks and two religious paintings worth €30,000 (£25,000) apiece.
According to El País newspaper, which broke the story, some of the missing works of art, which have a total price of some €600,000 may have been lost as far back as 1990.
One €18,000 painting missing since 2003, of Madrid’s most popular mayor of modern times, Enrique Tierno Galván, has already turned up in a warehouse belonging to a cultural centre.
As one opposition spokesman put it yesterday: “any day now they’ll tell us that Cibeles [a statue of the Roman fertility goddess that is arguably one of Madrid’s most famous landmarks] has gone missing too.”