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Looted Van Gogh Artwork Retrieved in Ikea Sack

Looted Van Gogh
©Vincent van Gogh, Spring Garden, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, 1884, Groninger Museum. Via Wikipedia


Looted Van Gogh artwork found its way back to the Groninger Museum. The high-value painting in question is “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring”. The looting took place in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the painting “left” the Singer Laren museum. At this time, the institution closed for the public and smash-and-grab robbery took place.


Individual Looted Van Gogh Artwork to Collect Money for Prisoner Release?

Just Stop Oil
Photo of a man taking a photo of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery


The Groninger Museum previously loaned the artwork to the Singer Laren institution. The museum’s cameras show the individual in full frame breaking the museum’s glass door, taking the artwork and leaving. State institutions and special sectors dealing with art were immediately involved in the investigation. This led to the painting’s comeback a few years later.


Arthur Brand, a Dutch private art detective, was a key role in reaching terms of the artwork’s retreiving. Just last week Brand met with his contact in Amsterdam who handed him the art masterpiece in Ikea signature sack. It seems that the big Ikea bag has proven useful for something other than packing large objects at a cheap price. Some media say that the reason for the theft is to collect money to get “close friend” out of prison.


Looted Van Gogh
Winter Garden (“Wintertuin”), pencil and ink drawing, March 1884, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Via Wikipedia


After being able to retrieve the artwork, detective Brand posted a video on Instagram. In the video you can see him holding the painting and saying he will have a drink with all Dutch police authorities who engaged in retrieving the piece. Also, that he will give the artwork back to its origin museum.

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The Painting Suffered, but Is in Good Condition

van gogh seascape painting
Seascape at Saintes-Maries by Vincent van Gogh, 1888, via Wikimedia Commons


The Groninger Museum released a press statement on “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring”. The institution said: ” The work will be thoroughly investigated in the near future. The painting has suffered, but is – at first glance – still in good condition. It will be scientifically investigated in the coming months. The museum cannot yet estimate when The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring will be on display in Groningen again. It could take weeks, if not months”.


The insurance firm which covered for the work’s value following its loss in 2020, is the official owner of The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring. However, the museum said it has “the right to the first purchase and will of course use this right in order to show the work to the public again in its right place”.


vincent van gogh self portrait straw hat
Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat by Vincent van Gogh, 1887, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


The institution also added: “The Groninger Museum is extremely happy and relieved that the work is back. It is currently in good company in the Van Gogh Museum. We are very grateful to our colleagues in Amsterdam for their hospitality. On behalf of the all our staff, all Groningen residents and visitors, we are very grateful to everyone who contributed to this good outcome. Arthur Brand played a key role in this case and the museum greatly appreciates that”.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.

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