The painting was stolen three years ago from a Dutch museum.
The “Indiana Jones of the art world,” that’s what people are calling Arthur Brand, the Dutch art detective. While working closely with Dutch police to recover a stolen Vincent van Gogh painting, an anonymous contact delivered it to his home wrapped in an IKEA bag.
Van Gogh painted the piece in 1884, titled “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring,” also known as “Spring Garden.” It was stolen from The Singer Laren museum on March 30, 2020—van Gogh’s birthday.
At the time, the museum closed due to the pandemic. In the surveillance video, the thief smashed through a glass door at night and ran away with the painting. In April 2021, police arrested a 58-year-old suspect who the Dutch media named Nils M. However, the painting was still missing.
The long search is over
According to Brand, the painting was most likely being passed around in the criminal world. Eventually, a man not connected to the theft reached out to him. “Mr. Brand, I could turn in the Van Gogh, but I don’t want to get into trouble,” the anonymous contact confessed.
But once Brand had gained his confidence, the contact delivered the painting straight to his home. Andreas Blühm, the director of the Groninger Museum which owns the painting, was in a bar at the street corner, waiting to authenticate the piece.
“We have searched for it for more than three-and-a-half years but finally it is here,” Brand said in an Instagram video.
“It’s back, and I’m going to hand it over in a couple of minutes to the museum director. And then I’m going to have a drink with all the police officers who were involved in recovering this beautiful piece by Vincent Van Gogh.”
The recovered painting has visible scratches, after spending years in suboptimal conditions. It is now at the hands of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam for expert analysis and restoration.
Brand’s previous successes include the recovery of bronze statues known as “Hitler’s Horses,” the “Blood of Jesus” of Fécamp (one of the Catholic church’s oldest relics), and several Picasso paintings.
Banner image via Twitter @brand_arthur.