Six paintings stolen from the town hall in Medemblik, Holland, recently appeared without warning on the doorstep of an art detective in Amsterdam—with no return address included.
According to Dutch media reports, Arthur Brand, known for his help in recovering a Van Gogh painting last month as well as a Picasso painting, was watching TV at home on Friday night when the doorbell rang with a delivery. The delivery man—who was reportedly uninvolved with the heist—unloaded a package that contained six historical paintings which are believed to be worth upwards of €100,000 (about $106,000). After examining the incredible trove, Brand called the police.
“I think this was a direct result of the recovery of the Van Gogh [The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring] last month,” Brand told the Art Newspaper. “That made headlines all over the world and one of the reasons the Van Gogh was returned was that they couldn’t do anything with it—sell it or get a lesser sentence.”
He added: “Most likely [the Medemblik thieves] got scared and maybe there was a possibility the police was on their tracks already. You either burn it, which is a bad idea because when you are caught later you get extra prison time, or they thought they would dump it at my doorstep.”
The recovered paintings include an especially prized portrait of the early medieval King Radboud, ruler of Frisia (the present-day swath of Northwestern Europe that includes the Netherlands), as well as likenesses of Dutch royals Prince William of Orange, Maurits of Orange, Count Jan van Nassau, and Queen Wilhelmina. Also recovered was a biblical scene.
Jeroen Broeders, deputy mayor of Medemblik, said in a press release that “sometimes you only know how much something is worth to you when it isn’t there anymore and that is certainly the case with these paintings.”