On Monday May 30th a Ukrainian resident returned one of the 24 paintings that were stolen from the Westfries Museum to the Dutch embassy in Kiev. The painting is ‘Nieuwstraat in Hoorn’ (1784) by Izaak Ouwater. The man had bought the painting in good faith and  with a certificate of authenticity. He is prepared to give it back to the Westfries Museum, without conditions.

On the night of January 9, 2005, 24 paintings and 70 pieces of silverware, the heart of the 17th and 18th century collection, were stolen from the Westfries Museum during a burglary. For years, the city of Hoorn had been hoping that the paintings and silver would resurface.

Four paintings retrieved before

On April 14th 2016, four of the stolen paintings were retrieved during a secret operation by the SBU, the Ukrainian Security Service. These paintings are a Peasants Wedding, a painting of Hendrick Boogaert, Kitchen Scene by Floris van Schooten, the Return of Jephta by Jacob Waben and Lady World by Jacob Waben

Investigation continued

Last summer, the Westfries Museum turned to art detective Arthur Brand to conduct interviews with potential owners of the stolen art. All the information that turned up during that investigation has been shared with the police authorities in the Netherlands and Ukraine. Brand and his staff also continued their investigation after the discovery of four stolen paintings. They traced the buyer of the painting ‘Nieuwstraat in Hoorn’. According to Brand, the buyer acted entirely in good faith. After several meetings, the buyer was willing to give back the stolen painting, without any conditions to its rightful owner. That happened this afternoon.

Delighted

Ad Geerdink, director of the Westfries Museum, is delighted by the gesture of the buyer: ‘We are truly delighted that this man is willing to give us back the painting.’ Alderman Judith de Jong of the city of Hoorn is very hopeful that more stolen paintings will be retrieved. ‘For us, this shows that the ongoing attention we ask for our paintings is effective. I hope more art lovers in Ukraine will follow this example.’

The joint police forces in Ukraine have reported that they will continue their investigation. They have also been informed of the return of this painting. Ad Geerdink of Westfries Museum hopes the buyer will want to testify and share his information with the police authorities. It is not yet clear when all the paintings will be returned to the museum. The ministry of Security and Justice has filed an international application for return of the previously found paintings.

Hoorn, May 30th 2016