A Van Gogh painting is back on display after being stolen.
The painting was damaged, with a deep scratch near the bottom.
Its return was a mystery: it was dropped off in an Ikea bag by an unknown person.
A stolen painting by Vincent van Gogh was put on display for the first time since being returned in an Ikea bag — but now, a white scratch runs over its surface.
The Groninger Museum described the damage in a press release marking the painting's return.
"The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring" was shown in its damaged state at a press conference at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, on Wednesday.
The painting was stolen in March 2020 while it was on loan to another museum.
This is what it looked like before:
A thief broke into the Singer Laren Museum, also in the Netherlands, and stole the painting. In September 2021, a man was sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing two paintings, including the Van Gogh artwork.
The painting was mysteriously returned in late 2023, given in a blue Ikea bag to an art detective in Amsterdam in September.
The bottom part of the painting was damaged — a white scratch near the bottom that was deep enough to see the linen underneath.
Here is what it looked like after that:
The scratch was likely been caused by the painting hitting a hard surface, said Marjan de Visser, who worked to restore it.
"I would call this a severe one because it goes through all the layers, the varnish, the paint layers and then into the ground layer, which is white," De Visser told AFP.
"The Parsonage Garden at Neunen" was completed by Van Gogh in May 1884. It features a smiling, lone figure surrounded by sparse trees in a garden and a small church in the background. The painting is estimated to be worth up to $6.8 million, per AFP. The Groninger Museum denied this claim to Business Insider, stating that the painting was insured for 2.5 million euros, or around $2.7 million.
The painting will be exhibited for public viewing from March 28 at the Groninger Museum, per the press release.
Several stolen high-profile paintings have been recovered in recent years. In October, an 18th-century painting was recovered by the FBI after going missing for more than 78 years. In 2019, the same art detective who recovered the Van Gogh painting successfully tracked down a Picasso painting that was stolen from a Saudi yacht.
Correction: February 9, 2024 — An earlier version of this story misstated details about the thefts. In September 2021, a man was sentenced to eight years in prison for the theft of two paintings, including this one; he did not evade capture. The story also misspelled the name of a museum; it's the Groninger Museum, not the Gronginer Museum.
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