(LONDON) — A Dutch art detective has helped recover a missing Vincent van Gogh painting that was stolen from the Singer Laren Museum, east of Amsterdam, in March 2020.
The “Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring,” painted in 1884, was stolen from the famous Dutch museum in a daring overnight smash-and-grab heist during the coronavirus lockdown.
Dutch art crime detective Arthur Brand, who has spent decades tracking down some of the world’s greatest masterpieces, announced on Tuesday he had recovered the stolen masterpiece.
In a video posted on Brand’s Instagram, the detective can be seen unwrapping the coveted artwork, holding it up as he poses for the camera.
“So here it is! The Spring Garden by Vincent van Gogh which was stolen three and a half years ago on Van Gogh’s birthday from a museum in the Netherlands. We have searched for it for more than three and a half years,” he said.
Brand said he was able to recover the famous artwork in “close coordination” with Dutch police, deeming it a “great day for all Van Gogh lovers worldwide.”
The painting — estimated to be worth between about $3.2 million to $6.4 million — was handed to Brand by an unnamed man in a blue Ikea bag at his Amsterdam home, he said.
“Finally, it’s here, it’s back,” said Brand, announcing he is set to return it today to the Singer Laren Museum director.
The recovery followed the emergence of “proof-of-life” photos of the painting circulating in online Mafia circles in June 2020, three months after the dramatic heist. One of the images showed the multimillion-dollar artwork — which measures 25-by-57 centimeter — flanked alongside a copy of The New York Times international edition and a book about a famous art thief.
In April 2021, Dutch police spokesperson Maren Wonder announced in a video statement that a 58-year-old man, named only as Nils M, was arrested in Baarn, Netherlands, on suspicion of stealing paintings by van Gogh and Frans Hals with an accumulative value of £18 million, or about $22.4 million.
“This arrest is an important step in the investigation,” Wonder announced at the time. “Both paintings have not yet resurfaced with this arrest. The search continues unabated.”
In a statement sent to ABC News on Tuesday, Dutch Police confirmed that the perpetrator was in custody and that the famous painting has been recovered, soon to be ready to be viewed by the public.
“The perpetrator is in custody and the painting is back. We are very happy with that result,” said Richard Bronswijk, of the Dutch Police’s Art Crime Unit.
“We know hat these types of items are used as collateral within organized crime. Intercepted messages have given us good insight into the criminal trade in these types of valuable objects.”
The penalty for stealing a painting is imprisonment of 8 years.
“The search for Frans Hals’ painting continued unabated.”
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