Dutch art sleuth recovers stolen Van Gogh

Published September 13, 2023
A PICTURE released by Dutch art detective Arthur Brand shows him posing with the painting, Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, by Vincent van Gogh, at his home in Amsterdam, on Monday.—AFP
A PICTURE released by Dutch art detective Arthur Brand shows him posing with the painting, Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, by Vincent van Gogh, at his home in Amsterdam, on Monday.—AFP

THE HAGUE: A Dutch art detective has recovered a precious Vincent van Gogh painting that was stolen from a museum in a daring midnight heist during the coronavirus lockdown in 2020, police said on Tuesday.

Arthur Brand took possession of the missing painting, the 1884 Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, worth between three and six million euros ($3.2 and $6.4 million), at his Amsterdam home on Monday, stuffed in a blue IKEA bag.

Brand, dubbed the “Indiana Jones of the Art World” for tracing a series of high-profile lost artworks, said that confirming the painting was the stolen Van Gogh was “one of the greatest moments of my life”.

“Arthur Brand, in cooperation with the Dutch police, has solved this matter,” Richard Bronswijk of the Dutch police arts crime unit, said.

“This is definitely the real one, there’s no doubt about it.”

Brand said that frequent calls by him and the Dutch police to hand back the stolen artwork finally paid off when a man, whose identity was not revealed for his own safety, handed Brand the painting in a blue IKEA bag, covered with bubble-wrap and stuffed in a pillow casing.

A video clip supplied by Brand showed him unpacking the painting in his lounge and gasping in astonishment when he realised what it was.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

The painting was burgled from the Singer Laren Museum near Amsterdam on March 30, 2020, in a heist that made headlines around the world.

Dutch police released video images shortly after the burglary showing a thief smashing through a glass door in the middle of the night, before running out with the painting tucked under his right arm.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2023

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