Kunsthal theft trial (ctd.)

August 13 2013

Image of Kunsthal theft trial (ctd.)

Picture: AFP

The trial was meant to start today, but it has now been delayed until September. One defence lawyer has said the pictures are intact, and returnable. It's all most mysterious. I'm going to be discussing the case on BBC World radio* & TV shortly (everyone else, I guess, being on holiday).

Update - thinking further about this, I'd be prepared to bet that the paintings have not in fact been destroyed (as the mother of the gang leader first claimed), and will turn up one day. It seems clear to me from the trial details so far that we're dealing here only with the low-level villains, those who physically removed the pictures. I refuse to believe their story so far; that the crime was just one of opportunity, that they thought the pictures might be valuable, and so worth nicking. They also claim that they found the museum just by googling 'museum' in Rotterdam (where they were already living).

I'm sure that somewhere out there is the usual 'Mr Big', the one who plans and bankrolls such operations. Invariably, as I believe probably happened in this case, the paintings are stolen as hostages, one day to be ransomed back to the museum or insurer. Therefore, the whole 'the pictures are burnt' story, and the presentation of the thieves as amateurish chancers, is useful in that it takes the heat off those who are likely still holding the paintings. In five, ten, twenty years time, once things have died down and the police have moved on, I'm confident we'll see the pictures again. 

* here, at about 48 minutes in.

Notice to "Internet Explorer" Users

You are seeing this notice because you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 (or older version). IE6 is now a deprecated browser which this website no longer supports. To view the Art History News website, you can easily do so by downloading one of the following, freely available browsers:

Once you have upgraded your browser, you can return to this page using the new application, whereupon this notice will have been replaced by the full website and its content.