A collection of Dutch Golden Age art stolen from a small museum in the Netherlands more than 10 years ago has been traced to a nationalist militia in Ukraine, according to the museum’s website. The Westfries Museum in Hoorn, just north of Amsterdam, said on Monday it believes that Ukrainian “art criminals with contacts… at the highest political level” are involved in an effort to sell the plundered works.
The museum’s public announcement is an attempt to deter potential collectors from buying. “The artworks now risk disappearing from view once more, and we are sounding the alarm,” the museum said in the statement. In January 2005, the 24 works — by masters like Jan Rietschoof, Matthias Withoos, Jacob Waben, and Jan van Goyen, and at the heart of the museum’s 17th- and 18th-century art collection — as well as 70 pieces of silverware were taken from the institution.
The museum reports that it has known about the paintings’ presence in Ukraine since July, when members of a defense group confronted to the Dutch embassy in Kiev. At that time, the men who claimed to represent the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists said they would return the works for $5.4 million. The museum, however, claimed that the works’ value is not that high; they estimate the worth of the 24 paintings to be $540,000.
— Noelle Bodick (@nbodick)
(Photo: “Vanity” by Jacob Waben was among the works taken from the museum. Courtesy Westfries Museum)