published : 2023-09-17
Missing Van Gogh Painting Worth Millions Returned to Museum in Ikea Bag
‘Art Detective’ Arthur Brand has a record of returning stolen art pieces
Art detective Arthur Brand retrieved a Van Gogh painting that had gone missing over three years ago.
Dutch police this week retrieved a Van Gogh painting stolen over three years ago, thanks to a tip from an 'art detective' who returned the painting in an Ikea bag.
Vincent van Gogh’s 'Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring' went missing in March 2020 during a nighttime smash-and-grab at the Singer Laren museum in Amsterdam.
Arthur Brand, a Dutch art professor-turned-'art detective' who has successfully recovered a number of stolen works, played a 'key role' in recovering the work.
Brand noted that the painting had been stolen on Van Gogh’s birthday.
Security footage from the museum showed a man in a thick coat and a ski mask making his way through the backrooms of the museum carrying the painting and another work rolled up.
Brand then received pictures of the painting just months later as evidence of 'proof of life' that the work remained unharmed.
The photos featured the painting alongside a book about a thief who stole two Van Gogh paintings from an Amsterdam museum and a May 2020 copy of the New York Times discussing the thief’s own heist that year.
Dutch police in 2021 arrested a 58-year-old on suspicion of stealing paintings, including the Van Gogh work, that totaled around $22.4 million.
A statement from the police noted that artworks can serve as collateral for organized crime and gave 'good insight' into the criminal trade of valuable objects.
The Groninger Museum declined to provide details on how it ultimately recovered the painting but promised that the work would hang in its galleries soon, as the painting has 'suffered' but is still in good condition.
The return of the painting raises a quirk in ownership since an insurance company had already paid out for the loss and now owns the work.
The Groninger Museum insisted that it would have the right of first purchase for the work.
A person found guilty of art theft in the Netherlands can serve up to eight years in prison.