In a video posted to Instagram on September 12, private art detective Arthur Brand announced that he had found The presbytery garden in Nuenen in spring (1884), a painting by Van Gogh (1852-1890) that had been stolen from the Singer Laren Museum, located in the town of Laren, east of Amsterdam.
Also called Spring garden, this landscape created by Van Gogh at the start of his career is part of the permanent collection of the Groningen Museum. When the theft occurred, on March 30, 2020 – the artist’s 167th birthday, the work was on loan to the Singer Laren Museum for an exhibition. The latter had to close its doors to the public at the time due to the confinement imposed by the Netherlands during the coronavirus epidemic.
Dutch police video footage released shortly after the burglary showed a burglar breaking down a glass door of the museum in the middle of the night, before fleeing with the painting under his right arm.
Arthur Brand received two photos three months after the theft “circulating in mafia circles” stolen Van Gogh, estimated at between three and six million euros. A year later, Nils M., aged 59, was charged with the theft of Van Gogh’s work, as well as a painting by Frans Hals, Two young boys laughing, stolen from the Hofje van Aerden Museum in Leerdam. Found thanks to DNA evidence which linked him to the two thefts, he was sentenced to eight years in prison and a fine of 8.7 million euros. “ The middlemen were caught, the buyer apprehended, everyone was in prison, but the painting was still nowhere to be found. »
“We knew that the painting would circulate in the criminal world from hand to hand, but that no one would really want to go near it because it was worthless”declared Arthur Brand at Guardian. “You could only get into trouble.” »
A few days ago, the private detective was contacted by an individual who claims to have The Garden in Spring and intends to return it on condition that he does not get into “trouble”. “I worked in close coordination with the Dutch police. I had to gain his trust, and when I succeeded, he decided to hand it over to me.”, September 11th. The anonymous contact wrapped the painting in a pillowcase and then delivered it in a blue IKEA bag to the detective’s home in Amsterdam.
Arthur Brand, nicknamed “the Indiana Jones of the art world” for recovering more than 200 stolen works of art, including “Hitler’s Horses,” clarified that the person who returned the painting was not involved in its theft.
The garden in spring is temporarily kept at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Although at first glance the picture is “still in good condition”he has “suffered”. It will therefore be examined and will be subject to possible restorations, which could take “weeks, even months”before being exhibited again at the Groningen Museum.
The insurer paid the museum the value of the Van Gogh, so the company now owns the painting. But according to the usual provisions, the museum has the right to buy it back, first.