top of page
  • Writer's pictureMaria Flori

Stolen Van Gogh painting worth millions returned under unusual circumstances

Updated: Sep 28, 2023


ARTHUR BRAND HOLDING VAN GOGH’S PAINTING


A Van Gogh painting stolen from a Dutch museum 3 years ago was returned last Monday to art theft detective Arthur Brand’s apartment, stowed away in an IKEA bag. The Groninger spoke to Brand and got his version of the events.

The artwork, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, - whose worth is estimated between $3.2 and $6.4 million- was stolen from Singer Laren museum on the 30th of March 2020, Van Gogh’s 167th Birthday Anniversary. It actually belongs to the Groninger museum collection and was on loan for an exhibition.


THE PARSONAGE GARDEN AT NUENEN IN SPRING, VINCENT VAN GOGH

In 2021 police arrested the thief, who was later convicted, but the painting was yet to be recovered. The conviction was an important step in the investigation because the authorities knew the painting had become worthless to whomever had it at this point.

‘’We knew that the painting would go from one hand to another hand in the criminal world, but that nobody really wanted to touch it because it wasn’t worth anything,’’ said Brand, who the police consulted on the case. He explains that anyone who had the painting couldn't sell it because he could have either be tracked down with it or would end up with an inexplicably large amount of money.

‘’We hoped that somebody would step forward and say look, we have enough of this, here is the painting, and leave,’’ Brand says. And that’s what happened. Brand was approached by a man with undeniable proof that he had the painting and was willing to return it. This man knew that Brand was cooperating with the police and was afraid that he might get arrested. Brand consoled him and tried to gain his trust. ΄΄He didn't break any laws, he was just doing the right thing by coming forward,’’ Brand confessed. Handover point was Brand’s apartment who is used to such dealings and was not scared at all, he told The Groninger. ‘’I work on stolen art, I'm not working on drugs. These people are more afraid of me than I am of them,’’ he said. His doorbell rang at 1 P.M. on Monday, 12 September, he went downstairs and there was the guy -whose identity Brand will not divulge- smiling at him, holding a big blue IKEA bag, with the paiting in it. Brand smiled at him and thanked him for his good deed.

ARTHUR BRAND RECOVERING THE SPRING GARDEN AT HIS APARTMENT FROM HIS PERSONAL INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT

Brand declined to give The Groninger identity of the man who returned the Van Gogh. Brand says it would be unethical to expose someone who was merely trying to help and that it would make it difficult for the police to solve cases in the future, if informants start getting arrested.


GRONINGER MUSEUM


Museum director witnesses handover


Andrea Blühm, director of the Groninger Museum, was hidden in a corner of Brand’s apartment while the painting was retrieved and was the one to authenticate it.


At first glance he spotted some visible scratches but then he was reassured by the Van Gogh museum that it will be restored, conserved and perfectly presentable in a way that no one could detect any damage.


Blühm has expressed delight and relief that the painting is back and confessed that the strangest moment was when he had to bring the painting to the Van Gogh museum. ‘’ You don’t always carry a Van Gogh through Amsterdam in the middle of the day,’’ Blühm said.

86 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page