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 three-and-a-half years ago, police said on Tuesday (Sep 12).
Arthur Brand took possession of the missing painting, the 1884 Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, worth between €3 million (US$3.2 million) and €6 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, told AFP 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 confirmed to AFP.
“This is definitely the real one, there’s no doubt about it.”
Brand told AFP 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 Mar 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.
In April 2021, police arrested a man named in Dutch media as Nils M for the theft. He was later convicted and sentenced to eight years behind bars.
M was also convicted for stealing another masterpiece by Frans Hals called Two Laughing Boys in a separate heist.