After three years, the Dutch Groninger Museum received a call that a stolen painting by Vincent van Gogh had been found after all. The work was left on investigator Arthur Brand’s doorstep, wrapped in a bloody pillowcase and a blue Ikea bag.
It is a picture with a title The spring garden of the parish in Nuenen from 1884, which was stolen from the closed Singer Laren Museum near Amsterdam at the beginning of the new coronavirus pandemic. The oil on canvas was lent for the exhibition there by the Groninger Museum, where the work is otherwise at home. “The painting has suffered damage, but – at first glance – it is still in good condition,” announced the Groninger Museum, from where they announce that the work will be thoroughly examined by experts in the coming months.
The suspect of stealing the painting was arrested in 2021 and sentenced to eight years in prison for theft, the job was passed from one hand to another in the criminal underworld, until someone decided to break the cycle and return it, reports The Washington Post.
The painting returned this Monday when someone left it on the doorstep Arthur Branda Dutch art historian and detective, also known as “Indiana Jones of the Art World”, who cooperated in the investigation with the Dutch police. Brand immediately called the director of the Groninger Museum Andreas Blühmwho received the call he had been waiting for for the past three years during lunch. “We found the picture,” the voice on the other end told him.
Brand expected the picture. A few days ago, a person contacted him on the WhatsApp application with a message that he wanted to return the picture on the condition that he would not suffer any consequences. “I consulted with the Dutch police and it was clear from the beginning that this person had nothing to do with the theft. He just wanted to return the work and we were in favor.”
“The Groninger Museum is extremely happy that the work has returned,” said museum director Andreas Blühm. “The painting is an integral part of our collection and our cultural heritage and it would be terrible to lose it forever,” he said. At the event, he expressed his gratitude to everyone who contributed to such a good outcome. “Arthur Brand played a key role in this case, which the museum greatly appreciates.” By the way, this was not the first time that a missing artefact awaited Brando at the door – last year a medieval reliquary from France was found in this way, and in general he has several successfully solved cases of missing valuables.
“It’s back and in a few minutes I’m going to hand it over to the director of the museum and then I’m going to have a drink with all the police officers involved in the return of this wonderful work of Vincent van Gogh,” Brand said in an Instagram video.
The garden from the place of the painter’s parentsThe returned painting of Vincent van Gogh belongs to the artist’s early creative period, in which an even darker color of brownish tones prevails, which was replaced by a color scheme of vivid and pure colors only later, when he met the shining Paris and the impressionism there. As Blühm recalled, the painting was created at a time when van Gogh was trying to perfect himself in the classical landscape. It is an image of Nuenen, where his parents lived. The scene in which we see a black female figure in a garden has been in the city of Groningen for over 120 years. The painting got there after it was bought by a university professor at the beginning of the 20th century. City or it was donated to the museum in 1962.
The painting was stolen on van Gogh’s birthdayIn January 2020, the work was loaned to Laren, where it was included in the exhibition titled Mirror of the Spirit. The installation displayed approximately 70 paintings, but due to measures against the spread of the new coronavirus, it was not open for long. On van Gogh’s birthday, March 30, in the early hours of the morning, a man broke the museum’s glass door, took the painting off the wall and fled with it on a motorcycle. “To be honest, there were better paintings in the exhibition in terms of art, but they were not the work of van Gogh, who is a magical name for criminals because of his international recognition,” he said Evert van Oshead of the Singer Laren Museum.
According to authorities, the theft of the painting was ordered by Peter Roy K., who was already serving time in prison for a separate case related to the importation of cocaine, and carried out by 59-year-old Nils M., who was also convicted in 2021.
According to Blühm, the paintings of such famous artists as Vincent van Gogh are not stolen to be sold or hung in their basement, but as bargaining chips. “No one wants to touch stolen art,” however, according to the Washington Post, Brand says. “Everyone who had anything to do with this picture has gone to jail or has to pay millions.”