Sotheby’s have returned a document signed by the Protestant reformer John Calvin to the authorities of canton Geneva on Thursday. The payslip, which dates from 1553, is believed to have been stolen from the canton’s archives.
The document was handed over at a solemn ceremony in Geneva's town hall, attended by representatives from the auction house and from international patrimonial experts.
The object was put up for sale at an auction on December 5 as part of a collectionexternal link of bibles belonging to the American theologian Charles Caldwell Ryrie, who died in February 2016.
It is a receipt signed by John Calvin on December 15, 1553, confirming he had received his salary from trustees. It was expected to fetch bids in the range of $20,000 to $30,000 (CHF19,457 to CHF29,185).
Alerted by an expert, the archivist of canton Geneva could confirm that the manuscript was missing from the archives and its sale was annulled by Sotheby’s.
After a series of negotiations, the owners agreed to sell it to Geneva for an undisclosed sum. According to the Tribune de Genève paper, two donors contributed the amount.