One of van Gogh’s many self-portraits.
Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images
Topline: A painting by impressionist master Vincent van Gogh was stolen from a Dutch museum overnight, according to officials, after the museum had been closed in order to slow the spread of coronavirus.
- The stolen painting was “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring,” one of multiple works van Gogh had painted of that location in his lifetime.
- The value of the painting remains unclear, according to the Associated Press, and had been on loan to the Singer Laren Museum for an exhibition.
- “I am shocked and unbelievably pissed off,” said museum director Jan Rudolph de Lorm of the theft during a Monday press conference.
- The thieves reportedly smashed a glass door to break into the museum which set off an alarm, the AP reported, but by the time police got there, both the thieves and the painting were gone.
- It also remains unclear if any additional works were stolen from the museum, according to CNBC, while the AP said that a team of forensics and art theft experts are studying surveillance footage and questioning neighbors.
- The Groninger Museum that loaned the van Gogh said in a statement that it is “shocked by the news” and that “because of the police investigation, it must decline further comment on the matter.”
Crucial quote: “It is horrible for all of us, because art is there to be seen and shared by all of us, for society as a whole, to bring enjoyment, to bring inspiration, and also to bring comfort,” said de Lorm. “Especially in this difficult time.”
Key background: Vincent van Gogh was born in the Netherlands in 1853. Most of the 2,100 artworks he created in his lifetime were made within the last two years of his life. He suffered from poor mental health and infamously cut off part of his left ear, before dying by suicide at the age of 37. Although he was not commercially successful in his lifetime, his work gained more critical and financial appreciation in the decades following his death. In 2017, one van Gogh painting sold for over $80 million in a Christie’s auction.
Surprising fact: Van Gogh sold just one of his paintings during his lifetime. “The Red Vineyard” went for 400 francs in Belgium, seven months before his death.