Early Monday morning, thieves stole Van Gogh’s “Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring“ from the Singer Laren Museum in Laren, Netherlands. The museum has been closed since March 12 per national measures to combat the coronavirus. The theft coincided with the 167th anniversary of the artist’s birthday.
Smashing through the glass of the front door, the thieves triggered the alarm system, but police arrived too late. The value of the painting is estimated at around $6.5 million, though its precise value is unknown. It comes from Van Gogh’s 1883-1884 Nuenen period, during which he lived at his parents’ rural home in Nuenen, painting village life in muted tones. It was on loan from the Groninger Museum for the exhibition Mirror of the Soul, which included 70 Dutch works from the 19th century, including those of Piet Mondrian and Jan Veth.
“I am extremely pissed off that this happened; this is a huge blow. This is extremely difficult, especially in these times,” said Singer Laren director Jan Rudolph de Lorm in a Monday press conference. The museum stated that security measures were running as usual and thought to be up to par.
“This beautiful and moving painting by one of our greatest artists stolen – removed from the community. It is very bad for the Groninger Museum, it is very bad for the Singer, but it is terrible for us all because art exists to be seen and shared by us, the community, to enjoy to draw inspiration from and to draw comfort from,” he added.
Wij zijn diep geschokt, boos en verdrietig. Er is een schilderij van Van Gogh gestolen. Het is vreselijk voor het @groningermuseum, voor Singer, maar vooral voor ons allemaal. Want kunst is om van te genieten, geïnspireerd te raken en getroost te worden, zeker in deze tijden. pic.twitter.com/eJezSTKSQl
— Singer Laren (@SingerLaren) March 30, 2020
Van Gogh’s work has been hotly pursued by art thieves in recent decades. In 1991, 20 pieces, with an estimated value of around $500 million, were stolen from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. In 2016, police recovered two paintings from a drug smuggler’s house in Naples, which came from a 2002 robbery, also at the Van Gogh Museum.
In 2007, thieves targeted the Singer Laren for another heist and made off with seven statues, including a cast of Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker.” It was recovered a few hours later with a missing leg, and the thieves were sentenced to jail time in 2010.