Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum closed by virus

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS (AP) — A painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh was stolen in an overnight smash-and-grab raid on a museum that was closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, police and the museum said on Monday.

The Singer Laren museum east of Amsterdam said, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884 by the Dutch master was taken in the early hours of Monday. By early afternoon, all that could be seen from the outside of the museum was a large white panel covering a smashed door in the building’s glass facade.

Museum General Director Evert van Os said the institution that houses the collection of American couple William and Anna Singer is “angry, shocked, sad” at the theft.

The value of the work, which was on loan from the Groninger Museum in the northern Dutch city of Groningen, was not immediately known. Van Gogh’s paintings, when they rarely come up for sale, fetch millions at auction. Police are investigating the theft. “I’m shocked and unbelievably annoyed that this has happened,” said Singer Laren museum Director Jan Rudolph de Lorm.

“This beautiful and moving painting by one of our greatest artists stolen – removed from the community,” he added.

“It is very bad for the Groninger Museum, it is very bad for the Singer, but it is terrible for us all because art exists to be seen and shared by us, the community, to enjoy to draw inspiration from and to draw comfort from, especially in these difficult times.”

The 25-by-57-centimetre oil on paper painting shows a person standing in a garden surrounded by trees with a church tower in the background.

It dates to a time when the artist had moved back to his family in a rural area of the Netherlands and painted the life he saw there, including his famous work The Potato Eaters, in mostly somber tones.

Dutch master Vincent van Gogh’s painting titled ‘The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring’ which was stolen from the Singer Museum in Laren, Netherlands. PHOTO: AP