As I posted last week, thieves smashed a glass door at the Singer Laren museum near Amsterdam and stole Vincent van Gogh's oil painting "The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884." The museum has been closed due to COVID-19.
"I am shocked and unbelievably pissed off," said Singer Laren's director, Jan Rudolph de Lorn. "Art is there to be seen and shared by all, for society as a whole, to bring enjoyment, to bring inspiration, and also to bring comfort. Especially in this difficult time."
Esquire's Daniel Dumas interviewed Art Recovery International CEO Christopher Marinello and Jordan Arnold, art risk advisor of security firm K2 Intelligence, about who might buy such a thing and the chances of finding it. From Esquire:
If smugglers do manage to sneak the painting out of the Netherlands, it could literally end up anywhere on the planet. But there are a few areas in the world that, according to Marinello, "are friendlier to acquiring stolen objects." Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Quebec all have laws that favor those in possession of property even if the path of ownership is murky.
Some wealthy collectors exist in China and the Middle East who are ethically challenged when it comes to getting a good deal," Marinello says. Then there's Russia where many oligarchs have adopted a "come and take it" attitude if accused of possessing stolen property. "I have a number of cases pending with high value works looted by the Nazis being held in Russia," Marinello says. "The holders know the works are stolen yet remain indignant and defiant."
And while there's virtually no meaningful data about how many people buy stolen artwork, they all seem to share a few key attributes. "It's someone who has the cash to spend and they don't have any qualms about possessing stolen property. They're wealthy and lacking a moral compass," Arnold says.