Dipinto di Van Gogh rubato, recuperato in una borsa dell'Ikea

Stolen Van Gogh painting, recovered in an Ikea bag

Ikea bags carry many things but recently, the Swedish furniture and homewares retailer's signature item contained a stolen Vincent van Gogh painting, The Rectory Garden at Nuenen in Spring.

Three and a half years ago, the work was stolen from the Singer Laren museum in a burglary during the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 1884 painting had been loaned to Singer Laren by the Groninger Museum voor Stad en Lande in the Netherlands.

Security video footage showed an individual smashing the glass doors of the Singer Laren using a sledgehammer and making off with the Van Gogh painting.

Arthur Brand, a Dutch private art detective , recently negotiated the return of the Dutch post-Impressionist's masterpiece. Last weekend, Brand met a contact in Amstelveld, a square in central Amsterdam, where the painting was delivered in the blue Ikea bag.

The people in possession of Van Gogh's work hoped to use it to barter for the release of a prisoner. Brand's operation was also conducted in cooperation with the Dutch police .

In a video posted to Instagram on September 12, Brand excitedly holds the Van Gogh panel and says he planned to have a drink with all the Dutch police officers who worked on its recovery after handing it over to museum director Andreas Blühm.

The Rectory Garden at Nuenen in Spring is a precious work created early in van Gogh's career before his artistic breakthrough two years later in France. It shows a figure standing in a garden, with a church in the background. The painting was created during a brief period when van Gogh lived in the Dutch town of Nuenen, where the artist's father served as a pastor in a parish. It is also the only van Gogh in the Groninger Museum collection.

In March 2021, a man was arrested at his home in the town of Baarn near Utrecht, in connection with the theft and another art robbery at the Hofje van Aerden museum in Leerdam, also in the Netherlands. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Although the recovered Van Gogh painting is “still in good condition,” the Groninger Museum press release states that it has suffered damage and will be “scientifically checked” in the coming months . The institution also said there is no estimate as to when the painting will go back on display. " It could take weeks, if not months. "

The current formal owner of the Parsonage garden at Nuenen in Spring is the insurance company after paying the value of the work after the theft in 2020. However, the museum said it has " the right of first purchase and will obviously use this right to bring the work back to the public in its rightful place ”.

The Groninger Museum is extremely happy and relieved that the work is back ,” Blühm said in a press release. “ He is currently in good company at the Van Gogh Museum. We are very grateful to our colleagues in Amsterdam for their hospitality. On behalf of all our staff, all residents and visitors of Groningen, we are very grateful to everyone who contributed to this good result. Arthur Brand played a key role in this case and the museum appreciates him very much ”.

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