Four of the paintings that were stolen from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, The Netherlands, were retrieved by the SBU, the Ukrainian secret service. It appears that the four retrieved paintings are among the most important paintings that were stolen in 2005.

During a press conference in Kyiv (Ukrain) the SBU (secret service) reported that four of the stolen paintings were retrieved during a covert operation. It was said that two of the works are framed and two are rolled up.

The SBU has indicated that the search will be continue, but also that the remaining paintings are in the hands of Russian criminals.

Alderman Judith de Jong of Art and Culture is happy and hopeful. ‘Naturally we want all of our paintings back, but this is a fantastic start. We want to thank the collaborating police forces for their research and compliment them with this first success.’

Ad Geerdink, director of the Westfries Museum, is thrilled about the paintings that were retrieved. ‘It seems that a Farmers Wedding, a portrait by Hendrick Boogaert, Kitchen Peace by Floris van Schooten, the Return of Jephta by Jacob Waben and Woman World by Jacob Waben were retrieved. These are among the most appealing and most missed pieces of our stolen collection. We do worry about the condition of the artworks. From the images of the press conference we make that two paintings were re-framed and two paintings were rolled up.’

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 municipality of Hoorn had been hoping that the paintings and silver would resurface. Last year one of the stolen paintings first appeared on a Ukrainian website.