While van Gogh’s works have sold for up to $82.5 million at auction, pieces from his Hague period and style tend to fetch a bit less. In June 2015, Christie’s in London sold an 1882 Hague-era van Gogh for £2.3 million, or about $3.7 million at the time. A landscape he painted in Nuenen sold at Sotheby’s London in 2013 for £1.3million.
Mr Dönszelmann said in an interview that Italian police officials contacted the museum on Tuesday and asked if a specialist could travel to Italy to examine two paintings that had been recovered there. “It was absolutely exciting,” he said.
Arthur Brand, an independent Dutch art crime investigator who followed the case, said only 5-10% of stolen art cases were solved.
“In this case, they were most likely used in what we call ‘the art nap’ – the mafia often steals works of art and uses them as a sort of payment within their own family,” he said. -he declares. “Or if a patron is caught, they can sometimes make a deal for a lesser sentence in return for an offer of help in finding stolen artwork.”
Mr Brand also said the paintings were known to have circulated in the Dutch underworld soon after they were stolen and were, at some point, gifted to Cornelis van Hout, who was behind the kidnapping of beer tycoon Freddy Heineken. . (Mr. van Hout did not buy them, and he was shot and killed shortly afterwards, most likely for reasons unrelated to the paintings.)
Both paintings were found without their frames and suffered some damage. The paint in the lower left corner of “Seascape at Scheveningen” has peeled off and “Reformed Church in Nuenen” appears to have minor damage to the edges of the canvas, according to the press release. Further examination of the works is required to determine the extent of the damage.
The significance of the works for the Van Gogh Museum stems from the subjects he painted: the Scheveningen painting is one of only two seascape paintings from the Hague period in the museum’s collection. The church painting has personal emotional value, Mr. Dönszelmann said, because it depicts the church in Nuenen where van Gogh’s father was pastor. After his father’s death, van Gogh added figures in mourning leaving the church and gave it as a gift to his mother.