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A Vincent van Gogh painting was stolen from a museum in the Netherlands in an overnight raid on Monday, Dutch police said. The Singer Laren museum just east of Amsterdam was closed at the time to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The opportunistic thieves made off with the Dutch master’s The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring (1884) while the institution was closed to the public. The painting had been on loan from the Groninger Museum. Ironically, the painting was stolen on the day Van Gogh was born 167 years ago.
"This is exactly what you don’t want as a museum that has a painting on loan," Singer Laren museum director Jan Rudolph de Lorm said in a press conference, which streamed live on YouTube on Monday. “A beautiful and moving painting by one of our greatest painters, stolen from the community … This must come back as soon as possible so that we can enjoy and be comforted by this beautiful art again. Art deserves to be seen and shared by us, the community.”
Van Gogh’s paintings, when they rarely come up for sale, fetch millions at auction. This particular piece of art has an estimated value worth up to €6m (about $6.6m), according to Arthur Brandt, an art detective who gave his estimates to local newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.
Van Gogh's stolen piece was part of the Singer Laren museum's latest exhibit Mirror of the Soul, an exhibition with more than seventy paintings, watercolors and drawings of Dutch art from around 1900.
According to the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper this isn't the first time artwork has been stolen from Singer Laren. Back in 2007, seven statues were stolen from the museum garden, including a cast of the statue The Thinker by the French artist Auguste Rodin, which was later found "severely maimed".