The painting is allegedly owned by a Dutch drug lord who is currently in prison
Exactly a year ago, a Van Gogh painting owned by the Groninger Museum was stolen from Singer Museum in Laren. The painting “Spring garden, the pastoral garden in Nuenen” was on loan at the time, and now a year later the museum wants to bring attention to the missing painting with a special website. “We hope that the work will return as soon as possible”, says the museum. As reported by the GIC.
On March 30, 2020, a scooter driver stopped in front of the museum in Laren. The thief got off his scooter, smashed two glass doors, and later walked out of the museum with the painting under his arm. The entire theft was caught on CCTV.
Art detective Arthur Brand took up the case as soon as he received photos of the painting, and says that he knows who now owns the Van Gogh: a drug trafficker is said to have bought the work for about 400,000 euros. “I know who stole it. I know who was offered it and who bought it. For what amount and I know why it was bought, for a reduced sentence”, says Brand. The owner, who allegedly bought the painting from prison, hopes to be able to use the painting in exchange for a reduction in his sentence.
Brand previously stated that he hopes that the owner of the painting will see that he will not receive a reduction in his sentence by offering the painting, as the Dutch state and justice system is unlikely to be moved by extortion. “Hopefully this will lead this person to think: let me give it back and I’ll get rid of that headache”, says Brand.
The Groninger Museum says in a response that they can now do not much more than hope and wait for things to progress. To ensure that the painting does not fall off the news agenda, an in-depth information website has been launched: groningermuseum.nl/vangogh.
The museum has taken the opportunity to share stories and background information around the painting, including in-depth texts and photos of pen drawings and fragments from Van Gogh’s letters that provide a glimpse into its origins.
The website describes the church that is depicted, about how Van Gogh ended up in the rectory with his parents, and about his studio. For this project, the museum is collaborating with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam: senior researcher Teio Meedendorp has brought the painting to life with the facts.