CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Rembrandt recovered! Self-portrait stolen from Nationalmuseum in Stockholm recovered in Copenhagen

Rembrandt, Self portrait, 1630, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum

Rembrandt, Self portrait, signed and dated R[HL] 1630.
Copper, 15 x 12.2 cm. Bredius 11. Stockholm, Nationalmuseum

The small self-portrait on copper by Rembrandt that was stolen from the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm in an armed robbery in December 2000 has been recovered in Copenhagen. Two Iraqis, a Swede and a Gambian have been arrested in a hotel in the Danish capital. The painting is said to be undamaged and in its frame.

For the Nationalmuseum and CODART, the timing of the recovery adds to the joy and relief. Next Wednesday the museum is opening a major exhibition on Dutch painting of the Golden Age, in which the Rembrandt self portrait can now take its rightful place. The CODART ACHT study trip will be visiting Stockholm and surroundings especially for this occasion.

From the Copenhagen Post Online, via the Cultural Property Protection list

Stolen Rembrandt painting confiscated

Copenhagen Police has confiscated a stolen Rembrandt painting worth at least DKK 250 million. The painting was stolen from Stockholm’s National Museum in 2000.

A stolen Rembrandt painting, worth at least DKK 250 million, will soon be returned to its rightful owner, Sweden’s National Museum in Stockholm, after police confiscated it in a sting operation in Copenhagen on Thursday.

Four men are to appear before a judge in Copenhagen on Friday on charges of handling stolen goods. The men were arrested as the police seized the painting from a hotel room on Thursday evening.

The painting was stolen in an armed robbery at the museum in Stockholm in December 2000.

The four men, two Iraqis, a Swede, and a Gambian, were caught red-handed while showing the painting to people they thought were potential buyers.

‘We have been running an operation for a while based on a suspicion that there would be an attempt to sell the painting in Copenhagen. The painting is now with us,’ said Copenhagen Police Chief Inspector Per Larsen.

The theft from the museum in Stockholm was one of the most spectacular heists in Swedish criminal history. Three armed men came running into the museum, stole three paintings – two Renoirs and the Rembrandt – and escaped in a getaway boat. The robbers waylaid the police by setting cars on fire in nearby streets.

In the beginning of 2001, Swedish police made the first arrests in the case, and for a while 13 people were imprisoned for participating in the robbery.

Eight of the 13 were sentenced to prison for the robbery, the kingpins to more than six years of incarceration.

Five of the men were sentenced to pay SEK 320 million to the National Museum in damages to the Rembrandt and one of the Renoirs. The third painting was discovered unscathed in April 2001 and returned to the museum.

From Reuters, via the Cultural Property Protection list

17 September 2005

Two art masterpieces – a self-portrait of 17th-century Dutch artist Rembrandt and a painting by French impressionist Pierre-August Renoir – stolen from Sweden’s National Museum five years ago have been recovered, Danish and US officials said today. The recovery of the multi-million dollar artworks in an international undercover operation means all three paintings stolen in the daring December 2000 heist have now been found.

Four men – two Iraqis, a Gambian and a Swede – were arrested by Danish police in a sting operation yesterday while showing the $US40 million ($52 million) Rembrandt to a potential buyer at a Copenhagen hotel, Danish police said.

"We have recovered the painting during a planned action," police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch told Reuters in Copenhagen, adding that the four men would be held in custody for 13 days pending further investigation.

Renoir’s A Young Parisienne, stolen from the Swedish museum along with the Rembrandt and valued at $US13 million ($A17 million), was recovered in the United States a few months ago as part of the same undercover operation, but the news was kept quiet as agents pursued the final missing masterpiece, US law enforcement officials disclosed today.

"We recovered Renoir’s Young Parisienne earlier this year in Los Angeles, but did not divulge the development because the investigation was ongoing, and there was hope that ultimately the investigators would be able to recover the Rembrandt self-portrait, which happened this week," a federal law enforcement official said.

The official said the painting appeared to be in excellent condition.

The official declined to say whether any arrests had been made in Los Angeles.

Both works were snatched from the museum on Stockholm’s waterfront by an armed gang that entered the building just before closing time in December 2000.

While one man brandished a sub-machine gun in the lobby, two others seized the paintings from the second floor. As they escaped, scattering spikes on the road to delay pursuers, two cars exploded nearby, creating a diversion. The men then made off in a small boat that was later recovered.

The third painting stolen in that heist, Renoir’s Conversation, was recovered by Swedish police in 2001.

News of the Rembrandt recovery broke first, and was well received in Sweden. Asked how she felt on hearing of the recovery, Gorel Cavalli-Bjorkman, head of research at Sweden’s National Museum and a Rembrandt expert, said: "I jumped with joy!" "I had expected it would be recovered at some point, I was just hoping we would get it back before I retired," she said.

Danish police spokesman Munch said the painting seemed to be in good condition, but Cavalli-Bjorkman said the museum’s art restorer would undertake a closer examination.

There have been several high-profile art robberies in the Nordics in recent years. A version of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s The Scream was stolen from an Oslo museum last year in a case that has baffled the country and led to an abundance of conspiracy theories. That painting is still missing.