17 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — In the space of two days, Spanish and Dutch police have reported two separate arrests in connection with the theft of Van Gogh paintings from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum last year.
Spanish police said on Tuesday they had arrested a 31-year-old Dutchman. The man is identified as Octave D. — but is also known as “the ape”, apparently because he has eluded police so often.
He was arrested in the southern Spanish coast town of Puerto Banús, located near Malaga, an NOS news report said.
Spanish police also said the man is “a dangerous international criminal” and the Public Prosecution Office (OM) in Amsterdam has requested his extradition to the Netherlands. Amsterdam police assisted Spanish officers in carrying out the arrest.
Meanwhile, Dutch police revealed on Wednesday that another man was arrested in the Netherlands several weeks ago. He too is suspected of involvement in the theft, but police have refused to comment any further, a nu.nl news report said.
Two paintings were stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in December 2002. The paintings were the work of the Dutch master artist and were the 1882 “Zeezicht uit Scheveningen” (View of the Sea at Scheveningen) and the 1884 “Het uitgaan van de hervormde kerk in Nuenen” (Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen).
The artworks have an estimated value of several million euros, but were not insured because they were in the possession of the Dutch State.
The museum offered a EUR 100,000 reward for the golden tip that would lead to the recovery of the paintings, but has not yet reacted to the arrests. It is not yet clear if the paintings have been recovered.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news