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Dutch police arrest suspect in theft of Van Gogh, Frans Hals paintings



A 58-year-old man has been arrested in the Netherlands for allegedly pushing two paintings by Dutch masters Vincent van Gogh and Frans Hals from museums closed by the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

Police spokeswoman Maren Wonder announced on video Tuesday that the man was arrested in Baarn, a municipality about 40 km southeast of Amsterdam, according to Reuters.

No details were released about the named suspect.

The paintings – Van Gogh’s “Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring” and Hals’ “Two Laughing Boys” – have not been restored and appealed to the public for help finding them, Wonder said.

Van Gogh is valued at up to $ 6.6 million, and the Neck painting, which dates from 1

626, has been valued at $ 18 million by an expert, the news agency reported.

“For several months, intensive investigations into the robbery of both paintings were conducted under the direction of the public prosecutor’s office,” the Dutch police statement said.

This picture from Groninger Museum on Monday 30 March 2020 shows the Dutch master Vincent van Gogh's painting entitled

This photo from the Groninger Museum on Monday, March 30, 2020 shows the Dutch master Vincent van Gogh’s painting entitled “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring”, which was stolen from the Singer Museum in Laren, the Netherlands. (Groninger Museum via AP)

Van Gogh was stolen on March 30 – on what would have been the 19th century painter’s 167th birthday – from the Singer Laren Museum near Amsterdam, while it was closed due to coronavirus measures, the Agence France-Presse reported.

“Parsonage Garden” comes from relatively early in the master’s career, before he started his trademark post-impressionist paintings as “Sunflowers”.

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“Two Laughing Boys” were stolen during a burglary in August at the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden museum in Leerdam, according to AFP.

The painting – which features two laughing boys with a mug of beer – was previously stolen from the same museum in 2011 and 1988. It was recovered after six months and three years, respectively.

Dutch art detective Arthur Brand, who was called “Indiana Jones of the Art World” to find a number of lost paintings, praised police for their masterpiece collar.

This photo taken on November 3, 2011 shows the district manager of Alblasserwaard, Bart Willemsen, showing the restored painting

This photo taken on November 3, 2011 shows the district manager of Alblasserwaard, Bart Willemsen, showing the restored painting “Two Laughing Boys” by Frans Hals, which was stolen from Leerdam Museum in May 2011. (Photo by ILVY NJIOKIKTJIEN / ANP / AFP via Getty Images)

“Another huge success for the Dutch police,” Brand said in a tweet. “The plot thickens …”

Van Gogh’s paintings have been a frequent target of criminals.

Two of his works were shown again at the Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum two years ago, after they were stolen in 2002.

The paintings – “View of the Sea at Scheveningen” from 1882 and “Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church at Nuenen” from 1884/5 were recovered by Italian investigators in 2016 when they looted a home near Naples that belonged to a notorious mafia drug baron, AFP reported.

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Three van Goghs, stolen from the Noordbrabants Museum in 1990, later reappeared after a Dutch criminal reached an agreement with prosecutors.

Hals – a contemporary of Rembrandt and Vermeer during the Dutch Golden Age – is best known for works including “The Laughing Cavalier”, which hangs in the Wallace Collection in London, and “The Gypsy Girl” at the Louvre in Paris.

To read more from The New York Post, click here.


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