News and Commentary

Priceless Van Gogh Stolen In Overnight Art Heist Targeting Museum Shuttered By Coronavirus
Singer Laren Museum Evert van Os speaks to the press outside the museum on March 30, 2020 in Laren, about 30 kilometres southeast of Amsterdam, closed to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, after th 1884 painting by Vincent van Gogh "Parsonage Garden at Neunen in Spring" was stolen. - The painting has an estimated value of between one to six million euros, local media said. The criminals entered the museum at around 3.15 am (0115 GMT) by breaking open a front glass door, police and Dutch news reports said. (Photo by Robin VAN LONKHUIJSEN / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT (Photo by ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

A priceless work by artist Vincent Van Gogh was stolen overnight in what authorities are calling a “daring” art heist at the Singer Laren museum in Amsterdam.

The Singer Laren museum, like most other major tourist attractions around the globe, is currently closed to the public in order to help curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. But the situation, which left the museum with just a skeleton crew, may have contributed to its vulnerability.

USA Today reports that the Van Gogh, titled “Spring Garden,” is believed to have been stolen sometime in the early hours of Monday morning. The thieves smashed a glass door leading into the museum that set off an alarm, but by the time police arrived, the thieves had already made off with the art. It is “not immediately clear,” the outlet says, whether the thieves nabbed only the one painting or whether other priceless works of art were also taken.

“The painting has an estimated value of between 1 to 6 million euros,” according to local media. “It was on loan from the Groninger Museum in the northern Dutch city of Groningen.”

“Before the closure, the museum was hosting an exhibition titled “Mirror of the Soul” with works by artists ranging from Toorop to Mondrian, in cooperation with Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum,” according to USA Today. “The museum houses the collection of American couple William and Anna Singer, with a focus on modernism such as neo-impressionism, pointillism, expressionism and cubism.”

“Spring Garden” is considered a seminal work by the Dutch impressionist — one of a series that Van Gogh painted of “the vicarage gardens in Nuenen,” per It is somewhat more naturalistic than his better known, later paintings, presenting a realistic view of the gardens in springtime, without the layers of paint and wide brush strokes by which the painter is often recognized.

Van Gogh, a favorite of art lovers, is also a favorite of art thieves. His paintings have been the target of several notable art heists throughout history, including a 2002 smash-and-grab robbery of the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. The two paintings stolen in that caper,T”View of the Sea at Scheveningen” and “Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen,” were recovered more than a decade later and have since returned to public display.

The Singer Laren itself was robbed once before, in 2007. “Thieves stole seven works from its sculpture garden, including a bronze cast of ‘The Thinker’ by Auguste Rodin,” according to The Associated Press. “The famous sculpture was recovered a few days later, missing a leg.”

“I am extremely p*ssed off that this happened. This is a huge blow,” the museum’s director told media Monday.

“This beautiful and moving painting by one of our greatest artists stolen – removed from the community,” he continued. “It is very bad for the Groninger Museum, it is very bad for the Singer, but it is terrible for us all because art exists to be seen and shared by us, the community, to enjoy to draw inspiration from and to draw comfort from, especially in these difficult times.”

Although the museum was closed amid concerns over coronavirus, a spokesperson for the Singer Laren told press that security was still being handled “entirely according to protocol,” and that museum officials coordinated their closure “with our insurance experts…but of course we can learn from this.”