Van Gogh Museum robber claims he hid with football legend Patrick Kluivert

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Octave Durham, one of the two men convicted for stealing two Vincent van Gogh paintings from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2002, claims that after the robbery he went into hiding and got refuge from football legend Patrick Kluivert in Barcelona. Kluivert calls these allegations pure nonsense and plans on suing Durham for libel, his lawyer said to AD.

In a special Brandpunt documentary on the art theft that will be broadcast tonight, Durham explains in detail how he and a fellow robber stole to masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum in December 2002. The two paintings, incidentally, were welcomed back to the museum today.

During the robbery Durham lost his hat. After a long investigation, DNA traces found in the hat led the police to Durham's Amsterdam apartment. He managed to escape capture and fled to Spain. Where, according to him, Kluivert invited him to come live in his house. Kluivert was playing for FC Barcelona at the time.

"A friend of mine was Patrick Kluivert. He lived in my neighborhood in Amsterdam. I ran into Patrick in Barcelona and told him that I was wanted by the police. I obviously did not say it was because of the Van Goghs. And then he said: 'Why are you staying in a hotel the whole time? Why not come stay at my house?'" Durham said to Brandpunt. 

Patrick Kluivert himself calls Durham's allegations nonsense. "That I offered him shelter is pertinent nonsense", he said to the Telegraaf. "In fact, if I'd known his past, I would obviously have stayed far away from him."

"Kluivert vehemently denies it." his lawyer Gerard Spong said to AD. "Kluivert maybe once met this guy in passing, but never gave him shelter. He was never in his house. These are extremely defamatory statements which will not remain without consequences." Spong will file a libel lawsuit this week. According to him, trying to get Durham to retract the statement makes little sense. "The accusations have already been trumpeted everywhere."

Documentary maker Vincent Verweij does not doubt Durham's story. "I have two sources that confirm the claim, including a family member of which I have a recording", Durham said to AD. "We did not take any chances and asked for a reaction from Kluivert. Then he did not want to respond and now that there is pressure, there's suddenly a denial."