Mysterious Ukrainian Collector Returns Stolen Dutch Old Master Painting a Decade Later

It's the fifth painting recovered from a 2005 heist.

A decade ago, 24 paintings were stolen from the Westfries Museum in the Netherlands. Now, four of the works have been recovered in the Ukraine. Photo: courtesy the Westfries Museum.
A decade ago, 24 paintings were stolen from the Westfries Museum in the Netherlands. Now, four of the works have been recovered in the Ukraine.
Photo: courtesy the Westfries Museum.

A Ukrainian art buyer has returned one of 24 paintings that disappeared from the Netherlands’ Westfries Museum during a 2005 robbery, reports Agence France Presse.

An unnamed Ukrainian resident brought one of the works to the Dutch Embassy in Kiev. “The man had brought in the painting in good faith and with a certificate of authenticity,” said Marieke van Leeuwen, spokesperson for the Netherlands’s Hoorn municipality, home to the museum, in a statement.

The canvas is the fifth piece stolen during the heist to be successfully recovered. In December, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, a militant group, demanded a €50 million (about $55 million) ransom for their return. The Ukrainian government pledged that the works will be handed over to the Netherlands.

The Dutch government is eagerly anticipating the return of the four canvases seized from the militant group. “We hope to put them on display by the end of the summer, but first we need to see what restoration they would have to undergo,” Van Leeuwen noted.

Isaak Ouwater, Nieuwstraat in Hoorn (1784). Courtesy of the Westfries Museum.

Isaak Ouwater, Nieuwstraat in Hoorn (1784). Courtesy of the Westfries Museum.

The missing 18th-century painting, Isaak Ouwater‘s Nieuwstraat in Hoorn (1784), is thought to be worth around €30,000 ($33,400). The other stolen artworks are by lesser Dutch Golden Age artists such as Jan Linsen and Jan van Goyen.

When the robbery occurred over a decade ago, the paintings were valued at a total of €10 million ($11 million). The heist also targeted 70 pieces of silverware.

Dutch art historian and art detective Arthur Brand, Hoorn mayor Yvonne van Mastrigt, and Ad Geerdink director of the Westfries Museum at a press conference on artworks stolen from the museum in 2005. Photo: Olaf Kraak/AFP/Getty Images.

Dutch art historian and art detective Arthur Brand, Hoorn mayor Yvonne van Mastrigt, and Ad Geerdink director of the Westfries Museum at a press conference. Courtesy of Olaf Kraak/AFP/Getty Images.

Another batch of stolen Old Masters, taken from Verona’s Castelvecchio Museum in November 2015, also turned up in Ukraine in recent months. The paintings, by such artists as Peter Paul Rubens, Andrea Mantegna,Giovanni Francesco Caroto, Hans de Jode, Jacopo Bellini, and Jacopo and Domenico Tintoretto, were discovered near the Moldovan border.


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