Gunshots Were Fired at a Dutch Museum as Two Thieves Tried to Steal a Monet Painting—and Then Dropped It on the Way Out

No one was injured in the botched heist.

Claude_Monet, De Voorzaan en de Westerhem (1871). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Shots were fired at the Zaans Museum in the Netherlands this weekend as robbers attempted to abscond with a prized Monet painting. 

On Sunday morning, a thief fled the museum with the painting, Monet’s De Voorzaan en de Westerhem (1871), under his arm. He tried to mount a motorcycle driven by an accomplice when a bystander attempted to stop the duo. In the scuffle, the robber reportedly dropped the painting before he and the motorcyclist drove off. 

Shots were fired by one of the two suspects at some point during the incident, but no one was hurt, according to the Dutch newspaper Noordhollands DagbladThe suspects’ motorcycle was later discovered abandoned on a road near the museum.

The institution addressed the episode on Twitter today, August 16. “A failed robbery took place at the museum on Sunday,” read the post. “No one was injured and nothing was stolen.”

In an email to Artnet News, a spokesperson for the museum confirmed that Monet’s artwork was indeed recovered. “Our experts are currently investigating if the painting was damaged during the incident. For that reason we are unable to put it on display at the moment,” the representative explained. “We are all very relieved that neither visitors nor staff were injured during the incident.”

The local police said in a tweet of their own that they responded to reports of a “shooting incident” involving two men. The department has launched an investigation into the crime.

The museum, located in the northern Dutch town of Zaandam, will remain closed today and reopen tomorrow.

A Zaans Museum employee presents the museum's new purchase, <i>The Voorzaan and Westerhem</i> by Claude Monet, in Zaandam on June 2, 2015. Photo: Valerie Kuypers/AFP via Getty Images.

A Zaans Museum employee presents the museum’s new purchase, The Voorzaan and Westerhem by Claude Monet, in Zaandam on June 2, 2015. Photo: Valerie Kuypers/AFP via Getty Images.

De Voorzaan en de Westerhem, which depicts a pair of sailboats cruising past a cluster of riverside windmills, is believed to be one of the 25 paintings Monet completed during his four-month stay in the northern Dutch town of Zaandam in the summer of 1871—150 years ago now. 

The work was purchased by the Zaans Museum in 2015 for €1.2 million (roughly $1.4 million). At the time, it was the most expensive piece the institution had ever acquired.

The suspects “don’t seem like professionals,” Dutch art detective Arthur Brand told local outlet NH News“I can name a few things that made this little chance of success.”

For one thing, the location wasn’t well suited for a getaway as it was swarmed by tourists with cameras in hand. “A lot of mistakes were made,” Brand said. “It does not seem well thought out.”

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