Arthur Brand, famous for finding a missing Van Gogh masterpiece last month, has just recovered six more stolen historical paintings.
Paintings, especially those of significant value, hold a special place in the world of art. This is why art thieves constantly have their sights set on the most prized masterpieces.
In a rather peculiar turn of events, six paintings that thieves had stolen from an old town hall in the small coastal town of Medemblik in north Holland have found their way back to their rightful owner.
This unusual return was facilitated by none other than the “Indiana Jones of the Art World.”
Arthur Brand, a renowned art detective, is recognized for his remarkable recoveries. This includes finding an early Van Gogh painting, retrieving Hitler’s horse statues, and even securing a Picasso masterpiece.
The story of how these stolen paintings made their way back to the art world is nothing short of intriguing.
Brand, a man with an impressive track record of art recoveries, was enjoying a quiet evening at home on Friday, October 13th, when his doorbell unexpectedly rang.
“I was watching a boring (soccer) game: Holland was losing to France 2-0,” he recalled. “They just called at my door on Friday night at 10.30pm.”
An individual, apparently unconnected to the theft, asked him to come downstairs and receive a delivery. At the time, he was unaware that this “delivery” comprised the six stolen paintings.
After taking possession of the artworks, Brand brought them up to his apartment before immediately alerting the authorities.
The tale of these stolen artworks starts when thieves took them from the old town hall of Medemblik after a break-in in early September.
The local authorities, in a statement issued at the time, not only confirmed the theft of the paintings but also mentioned the disappearance of several other items, including a chandelier.
To encourage their return, they offered a reward of up to €10,000 (approximately $10,600) for any valuable information leading to the safe recovery of the stolen items.
Brand believes that his recent success in locating Van Gogh’s 1884 masterpiece, played a significant role in the return of these stolen paintings.
“That made headlines all over the world and one of the reasons the Van Gogh was returned was that they couldn’t do anything with it — sell it or get a lesser sentence,” Brand said.
“Most likely (the Medemblik thieves) got scared and maybe there was a possibility the police were on their tracks already. You either burn it, which is a bad idea because when you are caught later you get extra prison time, or they thought they would dump it at my doorstep.”
The stolen paintings, collectively estimated to be worth around €100,000 (or $106,000), encompass a variety of subjects.
This includes a portrait of the historical figure King Radboud, which carries immense local significance.
Other paintings in the collection depict Prince William of Orange, Maurits of Orange, Count Jan van Nassau, Queen Wilhelmina, and a scene from the Bible. These recovered treasures are currently in the custody of the police.
A spokesperson for the Medemblik municipality expressed surprise at the unexpected turn of events. “One of our officials received a message out of the blue,” they shared. “It’s really extraordinary and a bit of a mystery, but for us, it is really good news.”
Deputy mayor Jeroen Broeders, in a press release, reflected on the true value of these paintings, stating, “Sometimes, you only know how much something is worth to you when it isn’t there anymore and that is certainly the case with these paintings.”
Brand, known for his modesty, has chosen not to claim the reward. However, he did make a lighthearted request: “I’ve asked for a book voucher.”
Banner photo via Instagram @arthurbrandartdetective.