High hopes stolen €15 million Frans Hals painting will also be found
Art detective Arthur Brand, who recently recovered a stolen Van Gogh painting, is optimistic about the prospect of also recovering a stolen Frans Hals painting. Both paintings were stolen in separate incidents but are connected to the same case. "I'm not saying where it is, but I have my suspicions by now," he told RTV Utrecht on Wednesday about the painting worth 15 million euros.
On 30 March 2020, the Van Gogh painting De Lentetuin was stolen from the Singer Laren museum. Five months later, on 26 August, the canvas Twee Lachende Jongens by Frans Hals also disappeared from Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden museum in Laarden. The painting is known as Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer in English.
In July 2022, an appeals court sentenced Nils M. to a prison sentence of eight years for stealing two world-famous paintings. The court noted that DNA traces belonging to M. were found after the thefts, and there were strong similarities between the two art thefts.
According to Brand, both paintings had ended up with a criminal organization that wanted to use them as leverage for lower prison sentences. Brand negotiated with the organization and recovered the Van Gogh over the weekend.
He is now focused on locating the stolen Frans Hals painting. "It is more or less known in which corner the Frans Hals is located. Based on that, I honestly think it has a good chance of being found. My guess is about 80 percent,” he told RTV Utrecht.
Brand plans to recover the Hals painting in a similar way to how he recovered the Van Gogh. “In this world, it's a matter of trust, as crazy as that may sound. Does the middleman trust me? Do we both keep our word, such that, for example, I won't reveal the identity of the tipster?” he explained.
He is now waiting for someone to contact him. “As far as I know, the people in possession of the painting are not cultural barbarians. If they wish to get rid of it for some reason, I hope they don't burn it, but send it to me through the mail,” he said.