Stolen Van Gogh Paintings Found “By Chance”

By Gabriele Cruciata

Back in 2016, the Italian police discovered two stolen Van Gogh paintings in a suspected mafia boss’ house. An anonymous source told The Stand that officers weren’t looking for the missing paintings.

On the 7th December 2002 two men climbed a wall of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. They broke in through a window and stole two paintings that hung on a wall on the first floor. Fourteen years later the Italian police found the paintings in Castellammare di Stabia, 25 kilometres away from Naples. “Those paintings were found by chance during an anti-mafia inspection,” tells an anonymous policeman The Stand.

“By chance”, a key expression. “That day we were called to inspect a mafia boss’ villa. We didn’t expect to find those masterpieces at all”, the source said. Raffaele Imperiale, the suspect, had collected Van Gogh’s works for many years. He’s on a trial now. His lawyers are trying to get his sentence reduced because of his collaboration with the police. But our scoop provides information not known to the judges, who are ruling in the Imperiale trial.

One of the stolen paintings is titled View of the Sea at Scheveningen (1882) and it is “one of the first works Van Gogh made without the supervision of his teacher Anton Mauve,” says Axel Rüger, Van Gogh Museum’s Director. The other one, Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen (1884), “was made while the painter was living with his parents, therefore this work is of biographical value as well” he adds.

After the two paintings were returned to Amsterdam two years ago, the museum organised a press conference. On that occasion, Rüger declared: “We can close the door on this particularly painful period in our history. I’ve been looking forward tremendously to the day when we could show these two gems to our public again. That day has come, and they finally have a face and a voice again.”

The Italian policeman told The Stand Imperiale could not have easily sold the paintings on the illegal market. “People who steal artworks are generally excellent thieves, but terrible art critics” he said. “They usually don’t know how important some documents are. Nobody will illegally buy a Van Gogh without the documents stating the painting is original”.


 

International Student House Target of a Series of Break-ins

By Dimitra Karapanagiotou

 

Over the past few weeks, a series of break-ins and robberies in the international student house in Vondellaan, a street in the south of Groningen, was reported, raising concerns and spreading fear among the residents.

On a Tuesday night, Mireia Antolin Estefania, an exchange student from Spain, went to the kitchen for a glass of milk, only to find her laptop, mobile phone and money missing when she returned to her room. “My door was open and the lights were on,” she says with her voice breaking, barely holding back the tears. “When I saw that all my things were gone I immediately called the police, but they couldn’t do much.”

Her room is cold and there is no mattress on the bed. “I don’t sleep here anymore. I sleep in my friend’s room. I don’t feel safe,” she says.

The incident alarmed the students and made them particularly careful, but locking their door was not enough as David Pauly, a student from Germany, soon found out. On a Saturday night, a little after midnight, David was asleep in his room when he heard a noise coming from his window. “At first I thought it was one of my friends calling me to join them in the basement so I didn’t react” he says, “but then someone broke and opened the window.”

The intruder fled without stealing anything or causing any harm once he saw that David was in the room, but the incident raised questions among the residents concerning the security of the building.

According to the contract between the tenants and the landlord, the latter is supposed to provide a safe environment and constant supervision. Most students noted that the owner of the building is usually impossible to reach. “I’ve been trying to contact him for a week” says Mireia, “he didn’t care about me, he didn’t ask if I’m ok or what happened. When I complained about the lack of security, he said that I am lucky to have a room at all.”

With the housing crisis in Groningen leaving over 300 students homeless by the beginning of the academic year, it is no wonder that many students find it hard to demand better living conditions once they finally find accommodation.

In fact, in Vondellaan, half of the building is still under construction, the internet connection is weak and the security of the building non-existent. “It’s still better than sleeping in tents,” notes David, “but the landlord is earning a lot of money through us, he should be able to do something”.