OSLO (AP) – A 450-year-old painting by Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach the Elder has been stolen from a Lutheran church in the southern Norway town of Larvik, police said Sunday.

Art expert Gunnar Krogh-Hansen estimated “Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me” could be worth $2.1-$2.8 million. It was probably painted around 1540.

The theft was discovered when firefighters responded to an alarm at the church around 1:30 am Sunday, and found a broken window and a ladder outside.

Petter Aronsen, a Larvik police official, was quoted by the Norwegian news agency NTB as saying the thief or thieves probably had a car waiting nearby.

“We don’t have any suspects and are very interested in talking to anyone who might have seen something,” he said. He said the national crime police and the national economic crime unit were being called in, and that a worldwide alert would be issued.

The roughly three-foot- wide work, painted on a wooden panel, had hung in the church about 330 years.

Cranach lived from 1472 until 1553, and is considered one of Germany’s important Renaissance painters.


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