Dutch man arrested in theft of Vincent van Gogh, Frans Hals paintings

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April 6 (UPI) — Dutch police announced Tuesday that they arrested a man suspected of stealing two paintings — one by Vincent van Gogh and the other by Frans Hals.

Neither painting, stolen in separate museum heists on separate dates, has been recovered.

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Law enforcement said they arrested a 58-year-old man at his home in Baarn. A statement from police didn’t include his name.

“This arrest is an important step in the investigation,” Dutch police said in a statement.

He’s accused of stealing van Gogh’s De Lentetuin, which, in English is known as Spring Garden, the vicarage garden in Nuenen in the spring, on March 30, 2020, from the Singer Laren museum. The 1884 painting was on loan at the time from the Groninger Museum.

Police at the time said the thief or thieves broke a large glass door at the front of the museum and tripped a burglar alarm.

The painting, which is about 15 inches by 28 inches, depicts the garden of the Dutch Reformist Church in Nuenen, which is where van Gogh’s father was a vicar.

In June, Dutch art detective Arthur Brand said he received “proof of life” photos of the painting, which included a copy of The New York Times dated May 30 and the cover of the book Master Thief: The Bizarre Experiences of Van Gogh Robber Okkie Durham.

A 1626 painting by Hals called Two Laughing Boys was reported stolen from the Het Hofje van Aerden museum Aug. 27.

The painting has been stolen and recovered twice before — once in 1988 along with a Jacob van Ruidael painting, and again in 2011.

Hals, who died in 1666, worked as part of the Dutch Golden Age of painting, which included other masters such as Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn. He was known for his realistic portraits of various members of society, not just the wealthy.