Mystery surrounds the location of a historic painting which has disappeared from a Wellingborough hotel.
The painting of Catherine the Great by Dimitry Levitzky was boarded up in the Hind Hotel’s Queen Anne Room in 2000 after it was damaged by a champagne cork during a Christmas party.
The move led to complaints from the Wellingborough Civic Society, which said it should have been left in place and restored.
The hotel’s former owners, Menzies Hotels, had to apply for permission from the Environment Secretary to board up the painting at the listed building.
They argued at the time that it would not be cost-effective to pay a £8,000 repair bill to restore the £1,000 painting, so the picture was covered.
But when current owner Shasha Khan recently decided he wanted to remove the boards and have it on show again, he discovered it was missing.
Mr Khan, 39, said: “The picture was damaged by a champagne cork at a Christmas party. At the time it was quoted as being £6,000 to £8,000 to repair the damage, which is why the previous owner decided to cover it up.
“When the time came recently to redecorate the room, the subject of what we were going to do with the area which had the painting behind it came up.
“I thought, why not take the boards down and display the painting?
“So I spoke to the conservation officer at Wellingborough Council and the Wellingborough Civic Society, and everyone was really excited about the painting being displayed again.
“But when our maintenance man started carefully taking the boards down he looked behind them and it was gone.”
The piece of art was last seen before it was boarded up in 2000.
Wellingborough Civic Society committee member Judith Thompson said: “The last time I saw the painting was years ago. I think it’s dreadful that it has gone missing.”
Mr Khan is appealing for anyone, including former members of staff, who know anything about the painting to call the hotel on 01933 222827.