A man convicted of stealing a van Gogh and from Dutch museums


A three-judge panel in the Netherlands found a man guilty of stealing paintings from museums in separate burglaries by van Gogh and Frans Hals on Friday and sentenced him to eight years in prison and a hefty fine.

The Central Netherlands Court ruling did not name the 59-year-old man from Barn, who had previously been identified only as Nils M according to Dutch privacy laws.

The court held that the thief, who had served a five-year sentence for art theft, had deprived the public of a part of his national cultural heritage, in respect of valuable paintings.

The art works, the court said in a statement, “are important to present and future generations. People have enjoyed them for hundreds of years. With piracy, man has robbed not only museums in great abundance, but also society and the international public.” They can no longer see and enjoy the pictures.”

Byrne’s lawyer, Renske van Zanden, said he would appeal the decision.

Nils M has denied knowing anything about the theft of the painting, which has not been recovered. But prosecutors said his DNA evidence was found in both scenes – one on a broken picture frame in a museum and the other on a heavy-duty strap used in the stampede – an incident the court said he did not explain. can.

In its ruling, the court described the defendant as an “irreconcilable and calculating criminal” and referred to a previous conviction—he had stolen a 17th-century gilded silver monastery, or church, a museum in Gouda. Explosives were used to open the door. Ship, in 2012. The court also emphasized the similarity between the two robberies last year. Prosecutors said both thefts occurred sometime after 3 a.m., involving heavy force to break into museums, and involved an accomplice who helped the thief escape on a scooter. The partner has not been identified.

The van Gogh painting, “Parsonage Garden in Neuenen in Spring”, was part of a temporary exhibition at the Singer Laren Museum, on loan from the Groninger Museum in Groningen, when it was stolen in March last year. Security camera footage showed a man smashing two glass doors to the museum with a hammer and running away with the painting under his arm. The frame of the painting was left behind in pieces in the parking lot.

Hall’s painting, “To Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer,” was stolen five months later, in August 2020, from the Museum Hofje van Mevreau van Erden in Leerdam. The back door was smashed and police found an orange tension strap tied to a flag in the garden outside the museum, which prosecutors believe may have driven Hals or the thief down a nearby 10-foot wall. Was used to topple a waiting scooter.

In addition to the theft of pictures, the defendant was convicted of possessing a firearm and illegal drugs, which were found when he was arrested at his home in April.

Van Gogh’s insurance value was 2.5 million euros, or about $2.9 million.

The court said that the hulls were valued at 16 million euros, or about $18.7 million, and that an insurance company would cover less than half of the amount of the damages. The rest of the tab for the missing payment, the court said, was the responsibility of the defendant, who was working in a garage repairing cars before his arrest.



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