On Monday, a Dutch museum announced that a painting by Vincent Van Gogh was missing after thieves broke into the building in an early-morning raid. Lentetuin, painted by Van Gogh in the spring of 1884, was on loan to the Singer Laren museum, which closed its doors earlier this month due to the risks of covid-19.
“I’m shocked and incredibly pissed off,” said museum director Jan Rudolph de Lorm in a livestreamed press statement. “This beautiful and moving painting by one of our greatest painters, stolen, taken from the community.”
The Dutch-language Het Laatste Nieuws reports that the thieves entered the museum through a glass door by force. This set off an alarm, sending police to the scene. Officers, however, were unable to find the perpetrators. Press photos show a temporary door replacing one of the museum’s two glass front doors.
Lentetuin was painted by Van Gogh in the dutch town of Nuenen, where he lived with his parents from 1883 to 1885. The artwork depicts the garden at the parsonage where Van Gogh’s father resided as a pastor. According to the Associated Press, the value of the painting wasn’t immediately clear.
Criminals, both petty and sophisticated, have sought to exploit the coronavirus pandemic disrupting life around the world. Last week, Europol warned that con artists were using the crisis to sell fake covid-19 medicine and gain entry to homes under the guise of “testing.” And in the United States, national park visitors have reportedly started stealing hand sanitizer and toilet paper from facilities.
This is not the first time the Singer Laren museum has been targeted by thieves. In 2007, seven statues were stolen from the museum’s sculpture garden, including a cast of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. That statue was recovered soon afterward, but was found missing a leg. It was put back on display in 2011 after extensive restoration.