THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Dutch police have arrested a suspect in two separate thefts of paintings by Dutch masters Vincent Van Gogh and Frans Hals from museums that were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This morning my colleagues arrested a 58-year-old man in Baarn and we suspect him of stealing two paintings by Frans Hals and Van Gogh,” police spokeswoman Maren Wonder said in a video statement released on Twitter. No further details were given about the suspect.
She added that the paintings have not been recovered and appealed to the public to come forward with any information about the whereabouts of the works.
In March last year thieves stole the Van Gogh painting “Lentetuin”, or “Spring Garden”, which dates from 1884 and depicts the garden of the rectory at Nuenen, from the Singer Laren Museum in the town of Laren, near Amsterdam.
Five months later, thieves broke into a small museum near the city of Utrecht and made off with a painting by Dutch “Golden Age” master Frans Hals.
The work, “Two Laughing Boys” dated from 1626, was valued at 15 million euros ($18 million) by one expert. It had been stolen twice before in its four-century history, including as recently as May 2011 from the same museum. Police recovered it later that year after arresting four men who tried to sell it.
($1 = 0.85 euros)
(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Alex Richardson)