Dutch police arrest suspect in theft of Van Gogh and Frans Hals paintings


A 58-year-old man was arrested in the Netherlands for allegedly stealing two paintings by Dutch masters Vincent van Gogh and Frans Hals from museums closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said.

Police spokeswoman Maren Wonder announced on video Tuesday that the man was arrested in Baarn, a municipality about 40 kilometers southeast of Amsterdam, according to Reuters.

No details were released about the unidentified suspect.

The paintings, “Parsonage Garden in Nuenen in Spring” by Van Gogh and “Two Laughing Boys” by Hals, have not been recovered and have asked the public for help locating them, Wonder said.

The Van Gogh is valued at up to $ 6.6 million and Hals’ painting, which dates back to 1626, has been valued at $ 18 million by an expert, the news agency reported.

“For months, intensive investigations into the theft of both paintings were carried out under the leadership of the public prosecutor,” the Dutch police statement said.

This image provided by the Groninger Museum on Monday, March 30, 2020, shows the painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh titled “The garden of the parsonage in Nuenen in spring”, which was stolen from the Singer Museum in Laren, the Netherlands. (Groninger Museum via AP)

The Van Gogh was stolen on March 30, on what would have been the 19th-century painter’s 167th birthday, from the Singer Laren Museum near Amsterdam while it was closed due to anti-coronavirus measures, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Parsonage Garden” comes relatively early in the master’s career, before he embarked on his trademark post-impressionist paintings as “Sunflowers”.

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“Two Laughing Boys” was stolen during a robbery in August at the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden museum in Leerdam, according to AFP.

The painting, which shows two children laughing with a mug of beer, was previously stolen from the same museum in 2011 and 1988. It was recovered after six months and three years, respectively.

Dutch art detective Arthur Brand, dubbed the “Indiana Jones of the art world” for finding a series of lost paintings, praised police for his masterpiece necklace.

This photograph taken on November 3, 2011 shows Alblasserwaard District Chief Bart Willemsen displaying the recovered painting. "Two boys laughing" by Frans Hals that was stolen from the Leerdam Museum in May 2011 (Photo by ILVY NJIOKIKTJIEN / ANP / AFP via Getty Images)

This photograph taken on November 3, 2011 shows Alblasserwaard District Chief Bart Willemsen showing the recovered painting “Two Laughing Boys” by Frans Hals, which was stolen from the Leerdam Museum in May 2011. (Photo by ILVY NJIOKIKTJIEN / ANP / AFP via Fake Images)

“Another great success for the Dutch police,” Brand said in a tweet. “The plot thickens …”

Van Gogh’s paintings have been a frequent target of criminals.

Two of his works were re-exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam two years ago after they were stolen in 2002.

The paintings, the 1882 “View of the Sea at Scheveningen” and the 1882 “Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen”, were recovered by Italian investigators in 2016 when they raided a house near Naples that belonged to an infamous drug dealer. Mafia. AFP reported.

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Three van Goghs that were stolen from the Noordbrabants Museum in 1990 resurfaced after a Dutch criminal struck a deal with prosecutors.

Hals, a contemporary of Rembrandt and Vermeer during the Dutch Golden Age, is best known for works including “The Laughing Cavalier”, which is in the Wallace Collection in London, and “The Gypsy Girl” at the Louvre in Paris.

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