Suspect Behind Van Gogh, Frans Hals Masterpieces Theft Arrested, Paintings Still Missing

A 58-year-old man was arrested in the Netherlands on Tuesday in connection to the thefts of two valuable paintings by artists Vincent van Gogh and Frans Hals, according to Dutch police.

The man's identity has not yet been released and the paintings have not yet been recovered, the Associated Press reported.

According to police spokesperson Maren Wonder, the man was arrested at his home in the Dutch town of Baarn, which is located about 25 miles southeast of Amsterdam.

"Unfortunately, we haven't yet recovered the paintings and the investigation is continuing," Wonder said in an announcement on Tuesday. However, she called the arrest "a really important step in the investigation," the AP reported.

The paintings were stolen in two separate museums in the Netherlands last year. The Van Gogh piece, titled The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884 was stolen on March 30, 2020, from the Singer Laren Museum, which is located east of Amsterdam.

"This beautiful and moving painting by one of our greatest artists stolen—removed from the community," Singer Laren museum director Jan Rudolph de Lorm said last year. "It is very bad for the Groninger Museum, it is very bad for the Singer, but it is terrible for us all because art exists to be seen and shared by us, the community, to enjoy to draw inspiration from and to draw comfort from, especially in these difficult times."

Five months later, the Hals piece, titled Two Laughing Boys, was stolen—for the third time in history—from the Museum Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden in Leerdam, about 35 miles south of Amsterdam.

Netherlands museum
Singer Laren Museum's Evert van Os speaks to the press outside the museum on March 30, 2020 in Laren, about 30 kilometres southeast of Amsterdam, after the 1884 painting by Vincent van Gogh "Parsonage Garden at Neunen in Spring" was stolen. ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

The Van Gogh painting was on loan from the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands when a burglar smashed through reinforced glass doors to get into the Singer Laren, which is less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the town where the suspect was arrested.

Singer Laren spokeswoman Esther Driessen welcomed the arrest and said she hopes it leads detectives to the painting.

"The most important thing is that the painting returns as quickly as possible to the Groninger Museum, where it belongs," she said.

The Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden had no comment on the arrest. Police said last year that the same Hals painting was stolen in 1988 together with a work by Jacob van Ruisdael. Both were recovered three years later.

In 2011, the two paintings were again stolen and recovered six months later.