This 15th-century alabaster relief from Nottingham was recovered by sharp-eyed art experts at the Art Loss Register (ALR), who spotted it on sale in an auction catalogue.

The relief, known by the Latin name of its subject Noli Me Tangere (Don't Touch Me), was stolen from a company's offices in London in October 1993.

The thieves also took a Sidney Nolan sculpture and an oil painting by Eugene Boudin, also later recovered by the ALR.

The alabaster relief was insured with Hiscox's Lloyd's syndicate 33 for £12,000.

After its recovery, however, the relief was found to have suffered considerable damage. Most of its original paintwork had been stripped off, in a clumsy attempt to disguise it for the auction sale.