The attempted theft of two Rembrandt paintings on Wednesday night from London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery has been foiled.
According to a police statement, an intruder forced their way into the museum and removed two paintings, which were part of the exhibition “Rembrandt’s Light.” Police arrived shortly thereafter and found the intruder, who sprayed one officer in the face with an unknown substance and fled; the officer did not suffer serious injuries. Both paintings have been located on the gallery’s premises, but the thief escaped.
Detective Inspector Jason Barber from the Flying Squad, which is a special force to investigate commercial robberies, said in a statement:
This was an audacious attempted burglary and was clearly planned in advance. Two paintings in the exhibition were targeted and it was only down to the prompt response of gallery security staff and the courage and swift intervention of officers that these two works of art were not stolen.
The gallery and the police have not publicly released the names of the paintings briefly removed from the exhibition. “Rembrandt’s Light,” which opened last month, brings together 35 of the Dutch master’s paintings, etchings, and drawings, including works on loan from the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum. Dulwich Picture Gallery is closed until further notice due to the ongoing police investigation.
Rembrandt’s works have been targets of theft in the past, both at Dulwich and elsewhere. The artist’s portrait of the engraver Jacob de Gheyn III (1632), has been stolen from Dulwich Picture Gallery four times—giving the work the Guinness World Record for the most recorded thefts of one painting, according to The Art Newspaper. The portrait was not in “Rembrandt’s Light.” Meanwhile, Rembrandt’s only seascape, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633), was one of 13 artworks taken in the infamous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, and has not been seen for almost 30 years.