Photos surface of Van Gogh painting stolen from Laren museum
Photos of the Vincent van Gogh painting stolen from the Singer Laren museum in March are in the possession of art detective Arthur Brand. They show the front and back of the painting, along with the front page of The New York Times dated May 30 and a copy of the Wilson Boldewijn book Meesterdief, Brand said on Twitter
Meesterdief is about Octave Durham, an Amsterdam burglar who stole Van Gogh paintings in the past. This is the first sign of the painting, titled The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, since the thief walked out of the Singer Laren museum with the painting tucked under his arm on March 30.
Breaking: Proof of life of the #VanGogh recently stolen in Laren. Remarkable picture circulating in maffia-circles. My theory that this was a copycat of the 2002 Van Gogh-robbery by Octave Durham seems even more likely now: his book is next to the painting... pic.twitter.com/30Oq2oE6I5— Arthur Brand (art detective) (@brand_arthur) June 18, 2020
"We have a picture of the back. That is important, because the front of a painting can be found anywhere on the internet and you can copy it," Brand said in an interview with Omroep Max. "You can't copy the back because the back of a painting shows where it was sold, where it was exhibited. These are labels that are only known to the owners." Brand said that he always asks for a photo of the back of a stolen painting for this reason. He did not ask these criminals anything, he added. "They came up with it themselves. That indicates that they are professionals."
Brand also has a few theories for why a copy of Meesterdief is included in the photos. "I've been shouting from the start: These are copycats. These are people who have read Octave's book and are trying to copy it. So how he did it, and who they want to sell it to. That's obvious now. Otherwise why did they include the book," he said. They could also be trying to frame Octave Durham, but he has an airtight alibi, Brand said to the broadcaster. "It could also be aimed at me. Like: 'You said it was a copycat, well, here we are displaying that we have the book. Catch us if you can.' It could also be a kind of game."
The painting belongs to the Groninger Museum and was on loan to the Singer Laren when it was stolen. The Groninger Museum thinks it plausible that the painting in the picture is the stolen Van Gogh. "I have mixed feelings," museum director Andreas Bluhm said to NOS. "First relief, because the painting is still there. Then pain, because we don't have it. You also see a book lying on the painting. You shouldn't handle a painting that way."