Stolen Vincent van Gogh paintings will soon return to the Netherlands
Two masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh stolen from a museum in Amsterdam 14 years ago will soon return to the Netherlands from Italy. The paintings were found near Naples during police investigation in the house of a famous drug baron. Value of both paintings is estimated at about 90 million euros, and this robbery was for a long time on the fifth place in the top 10 high-profile art crimes, recorded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The paintings involved are "View of the Sea at Scheveningen" (1882) and "Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen" (1884 — 1885).
"We have just heard that the judge has ordered the release of two recovered paintings", said the Van Gogh museum’s director Axel Rüger on Thursday. "The two canvases will be formally handed over in the near future. A precise date hasn’t been fixed yet, but it’s expected to happen quickly".
Italian police officer stands next to the painting of Vincent Van Gogh "View of the Sea at Scheveningen" September 30, 2016. Photo: Mario Laporta / AFP
Late in September Italian investigators reported that the landscapes were found during a search of a house connected to the notorious cartel leader Raffaele Imperiale. He was arrested 10 years ago at the same place 34 km south-east of Naples, in the town of Castellammare di Stabia. This provincial district has a bad reputation as a center of mafia activity.
"View of the Sea at Scheveningen" and "Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen" were stolen during a daring raid on the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2002. The thieves entered the well-protected building on December 7, climbed up to the roof using a ladder. There they smashed the window and rappelled down inside.
International search did not bring results. This heist for nearly decade and a half was on the fifth place in the top 10 unsolved art crimes, according to the FBI.
Visitors of the Van Gogh Museum are considering the famous works of the artist. Photo via Google+
Meanwhile, as the Italian media reported, the Mafiosi Raffaele Imperiale, linked to the Amato-Pagano clan, subsequently escaped to the United Arab Emirates where he owes a construction company. A new warrant for his arrest was issued last year.
Based on materials from the agency France-Presse.