Mar 30, 2020
News

A Vincent van Gogh painting was stolen from a Dutch museum.

Vincent van Gogh, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884, 1884. Groninger Museum. Courtesy Museum Singer Laren.

Vincent van Gogh, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884, 1884. Groninger Museum. Courtesy Museum Singer Laren.

In the early hours of Monday morning, a thief or thieves stole a Vincent van Gogh painting from a museum on the outskirts of Amsterdam. The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884 (1884) was taken in an overnight heist at the Museum Singer Laren, which had been closed to the public due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The thieves reportedly smashed a glass door to enter the museum, setting off an alarm, but by the time officers arrived on the scene the culprits were gone. According to an Associated Press report, it was not yet known whether any other artworks or objects had been stolen during the heist. The painting had been on loan from the Groninger Museum in the northern Netherlands. The theft occurred on the artist’s birthday; Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853.
According to the AP, Jan Rudolph de Lorm, the director of the Museum Singer Laren, said:
I’m shocked and unbelievably annoyed that this has happened. [...] This beautiful and moving painting by one of our greatest artists stolen—removed from the community [...] It is very bad for the Groninger Museum, it is very bad for the Singer, but it is terrible for us all because art exists to be seen and shared by us, the community, to enjoy to draw inspiration from and to draw comfort from, especially in these difficult times.
The Museum Singer Laren houses a collection of modern artworks amassed by the American couple Anna and William Singer, who had a villa in Laren where they received many artists and friends. In addition to their collection, which spans 1880 to 1950 and includes examples of Expressionism, Pointillism, Cubism, and other canonic modernist movements, the museum’s programming includes collaborations with major museums. Exhibitions on view at the Museum Singer Laren before COVID-19 forced its closure included collaborations with the Rijksmuseum and the Zuiderzeemuseum.
The value of the stolen Van Gogh is unknown, according to the AP. The auction record for one of his paintings was set back in 1990 by Portrait du Dr. Gachet (1890), which sold for a then world record $82.5 million at a Christie’s sale in New York to Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito. Due to their increased visibility and compromised provenance, stolen works are virtually impossible to sell through galleries and auction houses, but may change hands for a fraction of their market value via black market channels.