Over three years after it had been stolen from a museum in the Netherlands, a Van Gogh painting — wrapped in a bloody pillowcase in an Ikea bag — was recovered.
“The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring,” an 1884 painting by Vincent van Gogh, had been missing since March 2020 when a man — wielding a sledgehammer — broke into the Singer Laren Museum and walked out with the painting, The New York Times reported.
The painting had been in a temporary exhibit on loan from the Groninger Museum, another art museum in the Netherlands.
Now, the painting has been returned, thanks in large part to an art sleuth that has been dubbed “the Indiana Jones of the art world,” according to The Washington Post.
Who stole the Van Gogh painting?
In April 2021, a suspect was arrested for stealing the Van Gogh painting.
The suspect, a 58-year-old man that Dutch media named as “Nils M,” was also suspected of stealing another painting — Frans Hals’ “Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer” — from a different museum in the Netherlands, ArtNet reported.
How was it recovered?
The whereabouts of the painting remained unknown until an anonymous tipster reached out to Dutch art sleuth Arthur Brand, saying he had the painting and would return it if he did not get in trouble with the law.
Brand met with the man and retrieved the painting, which was wrapped in a pillowcase that had blood stains, which the man said was from him accidentally cutting his hand, per the Post.
Brand posted the recovered painting on his Instagram Tuesday, calling it a “great day for all Van Gogh lovers.”
The Groninger Museum also celebrated the safe return of the painting in a press release on Tuesday.
“The Groninger Museum is extremely happy and relieved that the work is back. It is currently in good company in the Van Gogh Museum,” Andreas Blühm, director of the Groninger Museum, stated.
According to the museum, the painting suffered some damage but “is — at first glance — still in good condition.”