Dutch court jails ‘incorrigible’ thief for 2 museum heists

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – A 59-year-old man described as an “incorrigible and calculating criminal” was convicted on Friday of stealing a painting by Vincent van Gogh and another by Frans Hals from two Dutch museums last year, and sentenced to a maximum of eight years in prison.

None of the paintings, each worth several million euros (US dollars), were recovered.

The man, whose identity was withheld under Dutch privacy rules, was convicted of tearing Van Gogh’s painting “The Rectory Garden at Nuenen in the Spring of 1884” from the Singer Laren Museum near from Amsterdam. A few months later he stole Frans Hals’ 17th-century “Two Laughing Boys” from the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden museum in Leerdam, 60 kilometers (about 35 miles) south of the Dutch capital, the court said. central Netherlands in a statement. .

The court said Hals’ painting was valued at 16 million euros ($ 19 million). He gave no value to Van Gogh’s work. On the very rare occasion that the tormented Dutch master’s paintings are auctioned off, they sell for several million dollars.

Both paintings were stolen by a man who broke into museums at night and then fled on a scooter driven by an accomplice.

The accused, who has previously been convicted of a similar art theft, has denied any involvement.

“The court does not believe it,” the court said in its statement. “His DNA was found at both crime scenes and the man cannot explain how this is possible.”

The court described the paintings as “part of the national cultural heritage, they are important for present and future generations”.

“That is why, and given the criminal record of the suspect who is, according to the court, an incorrigible and calculating criminal, the court considers that the maximum sentence is appropriate,” the court said.

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