Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum during pandemic recovered

The 1884 artwork was recovered with help of renowned art detective Arthur Brand

Dutch art detective Arthur Brand poses with Vincent van Gogh's Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring painting. AFP
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A painting by Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh that was stolen from a museum in 2020 during a Covid-19 lockdown has been recovered by a well-known art detective.

The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring work, which dates back to 1884 and is worth at least $3.2 million, was stolen from the Museum Singer Laren, near Amsterdam, where it was being displayed while on loan.

“We have incredible good news. The painting Spring Garden … is back with the Groninger Museum three and half years after the theft,” the museum said.

It was recovered by Arthur Brand, who has been called the “Indiana Jones of the Art World” for tracing a series of high-profile lost artworks.

“Arthur Brand, in co-operation with the Dutch police, has solved this matter,” Richard Bronswijk of the Dutch police arts crime unit told AFP. “This is definitely the real one, there's no doubt about it.”

Mr Brand said 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 Mr Brand the painting in a blue Ikea bag, covered with bubble-wrap and stuffed in a pillow casing.

The initial theft took place during weeks-long lockdowns around the world as the Covid pandemic took hold.

At the time, Dutch police released security footage showing the moment thieves broke into Singer Laren Museum on March 30, smashing glass doors, to steal the painting.

The artwork depicts the garden of the rectory at Nuenen, the small Dutch town where Van Gogh's parents lived.

“The painting has suffered but – at first sight – it is in good shape,” the Groninger Museum said, adding it was now at the Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum and it would take weeks or months before it would be returned.

The Singer Laren Museum, where the Spring Garden painting by Vincent Van Gogh was stolen. Reuters

“Police have been closely involved in all phases [of the recovery of the painting]. The museum cannot comment on the ongoing inquiry,” it said.

Updated: September 13, 2023, 10:33 AM