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There’s a lot of different things you can buy at Ikea. And wall art is actually one of those things. But usually, that art isn’t a priceless Van Gogh piece; Ikea typically appeals more to the economical shopper.
So, imagine his surprise when Dutch art crimes detective Arthur Brand found an early Van Gogh work inside an Ikea bag delivered to his doorstep. Created in 1884, “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring” is a gloomy-looking oil painting showing a woman standing in a garden with an old church in the background. Missing for over three years, an anonymous tipster delivered the artwork wrapped in bubble wrap to Brand on Monday.
Brand says that “everyone is thankful to [the tipster]. The museum is thankful.”
In January 2020, it was part of a temporary exhibit at the Singer Laren Museum in the Netherlands, on loan from the Groninger Museum in a different part of the country. Unfortunately, the museum was forced to close for a bit just three months into the exhibit because of COVID lockdowns. During that lockdown, on March 30, “The Parsonage Garden” was stolen. The museum’s security footage from the time shows a masked man bashing glass doors to get into the museum to snatch the painting.
In 2021, a suspect was arrested in connection with the case. It’s likely that the painting was handed over from one crime group to another, too famous of a piece to be worth the headache of trying to really do anything with it. Eventually, a man approached Brand and offered to return the work in exchange for anonymity, and Brand was able to confirm that the guy had nothing to do with the theft itself.
Now, “The Parsonage Garden” is at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where experts will help restore it, and it could be months before the painting is back up on display.
"The painting has suffered, but - at first sight - it is in good shape," the Groninger Museum said on Tuesday.