Recently, Amsterdam museum unveiled two paintings by Van Gogh that were stolen fourteen years ago in a mafia heist. The paintings, 1882’s View of the Sea at Scheveningen and 1884’s Congregation Leave the Reformed Church in Nuenen, are from a period that was important for the development of Vincent Van Gogh as a painter.
“They are back, I never thought I’d be able to say these words,” said Van Gogh museum director Axel Rueger, before unveiling the paintings that were recovered by the Italian police. The paintings are valued at 50 million Euros. These works of art were discovered behind a false wall in a villa owned by Raffaele Imperiale, who is believed to be running a cocaine trafficking ring.
The sea view painting is very important to the museum, as it is the only work from the period, in which the painter was in The Hague. The other painting shows the church in the southern province of Brabant. Van Gogh’s father was the minister of Brabant and after the death of his father, Van Gogh added black clad figures to the painting as a tribute to his father.
“The children are safely returned now and they really are safe,” said Rueger, after pulling back a screen to show the paintings that are now encased in a glass frame. “They will remain here for many generations to come.”
The arrest of eleven members of the trafficking ring led the Italian police to the paintings, and officials believe that Imperiale is presently living in Dubai. The paintings were stolen in 2002 and the heist took only four minutes. The burglars escaped by sliding down a rope.
It is reported that the sea view painting has suffered minor damage when the thieves ripped the painting from the frame. The painting has lost a piece of backing paper from the bottom corner as well. Rueger said that it is a “miracle” that the paintings did not suffer any further damages in the last fourteen years.
“Several major items were uncovered in last September’s raid, including a private plane. One investigator noticed an unusual-looking wall, behind which the paintings were found wrapped in cloth,” a Reuters report said. Return of the paintings is yet another reason for the art lovers to visit Amsterdam and go for a private Van Gogh Museum tour.