Home News Hunt for stolen Van Goghs after art thief arrested

Hunt for stolen Van Goghs after art thief arrested

Published on 18/12/2003

18 December 2003

MARBELLA – Detectives were Thursday hoping to recover two stolen Van Gogh paintings following the capture of an international art thief known as The Monkey.

Octave Durham, 31, was arrested in Marbella after a tip-off from Dutch police, who believe he was behind a robbery at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum a year ago.

“He is a dangerous international criminal,” Spanish police said.

Durham, who is Dutch, is thought to have been involved in the theft of two Van Goghs, both valued in millions of pounds, from the Amsterdam museum last December.

The thieves simply put a ladder against the museum walls a couple of hours before it opened, smashing their way in through a window and then disappearing in a matter of minutes.

Police who rushed to the scene found only a 15ft (4.5m) ladder they had left behind.

The two missing paintings, View of the Sea at Scheveningen, and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, are among the earliest oils by the Dutch painter.

They are just two of the 200 of his paintings held at the Amsterdam museum, which boasts the biggest Van Gogh collection in the world.

“They have no market value since they were not for sale, but comparable paintings sold for several million dollars,” museum director John Leighton said at the time.

View of the Sea at Scheveningen, a small picture measuring about 33cm high by 50cm wide, of a boat setting off into a stormy sea, was painted in two days in 1882.

The thickly applied paint on what is considered one of his first major pieces contains grains of sand blown on to the canvas from the beach where Van Gogh worked.

Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, painted in 1884-85, shows the village church where Van Gogh’s father served as pastor. It measures about 16 inches high by 13 inches wide, and was “emotionally important” according to Mr Leighton. “He probably meant it as a souvenir for his mother.”

Dutch police are expected to travel to Marbella to interview Durham with an extradition request.

[copyright EFE with Expatica]

subject: Spanish news