Italian police in Naples recover Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh’s stolen paintings after 14 years

September 30, 2016 3:16 pm
Italian police in Naples have found two masterpieces by Dutch painter that were stolen during a dramatic raid on an Amsterdam museum 14 years ago.
The two paintings were recovered from the Naples mafia as part of an operation against the Camorra group operating around the southern Italian city.
Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam said on Friday that Italian prosecutors and organized crime officials had found the two works — “Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen” and “View of the Sea at Scheveningen” — that have suffered only slight damage during the “massive, continuing investigation”.
The paintings are both from the 1880s — relatively early in Van Gogh’s short and tempestuous career.
According to the museum, the Scheveningen painting is one of the only two sea scenes that the artist painted in the Netherlands and “an important example of Van Gogh’s earliest painting style, in which he already appeared rather unique.”
The painting of the congregation in Nuenen, a town in the Netherlands where Van Gogh’s father worked as a minister, was made for his mother and finished after his father’s death in 1885.
Further investigation must be carried out to determine both paintings’ exact condition and restoration needs, the museum said.
It was not immediately clear when they would be returned to the museum in the Netherlands.
“They’re safe,” said Van Gogh Museum Director Axel Rueger in a statement. “I no longer dared to hope that I could ever say that, after so many years.”
The works were taken when thieves broke into the building using sledgehammers and a ladder to climb onto its roof in 2002.
Two men were later arrested and convicted of the theft thanks in part to DNA evidence linking them to the scene. They were sentenced to four years and four years six months, respectively.
The works were reportedly among assets worth tens of millions of euros seized from a Camorra-organized mafia group involved in international cocaine trafficking.
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