Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Reverse Heist

The damaged Breughel recovered by Dutch police. Photo: EFE/Ruben Schipper.

The damaged Breughel recovered by Dutch police. Photo: EFE/Ruben Schipper.

Eight of nine paintings that had mysteriously gone missing in 1987 from Noortman Master Paintings, the gallery founded and run by Robert Noortman in Maastricht, The Netherlands, have turned up 22 years later, when they were snagged in a Dutch police sting operation. These missing paintings included La Clairière by Renoir, Bords de la Seine à Bougival by Pissarro, and Moneys by Jan Brueghel, the younger. A business executive from Dubai was trying to sell the paintings to the insurance company that had originally paid out 5 million guilders or over 2.9 million dollars to Robert Noortman after the initial disappearance of the paintings. Ben Zuidema, the private detective who was hired to investigate the missing paintings over two decades ago, was contacted by the Dubai business executive, who indicated that a person who was paid by Noortman to steal the paintings over twenty years prior had contacted him and wanted to broker a deal with the insurance company for the return of the paintings. Zuidema was offered 1 million Euros to assist in the transaction. Once Zuidema contacted investigators another sting operation was arranged and the paintings were recovered and three people were arrested. Noortman Master Paintings was acquired by Sotheby’s in 2006.

primary source: The National (Abu Dhabi)


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