In January 2005, 24 paintings and 70 pieces of silverware were stolen from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, Netherlands
Investigators have retrieved five of the paintings, which were found on the black market in Ukraine
Five artworks from the Dutch Golden Age are finally returning to their rightful place, more than a decade after they disappeared into the shadowy depths of the illicit art market.
The works belong to the Westfries Museum, located in the Dutch maritime town of Hoorn, where they will be unveiled on October 7 – a far cry from Ukraine, where the paintings were uncovered.
A new deal
In January 2005, thieves are thought to have hidden inside a coffin on display inside the museum before disabling the security system and taking off with 24 paintings and 70 pieces of silverware. It was the bulk of the museum’s 17th and 18th century collection, worth approximately 1.3 million euros ($1.45 million).
With no solid leads, it was feared the paintings would never be traced. But in July 2015, the museum’s director, Ad Geerdink, received word that someone from a Ukrainian militia force, a man named Borys Humeniuk, had made contact with the Dutch embassy in Kiev.
A deputy commander from the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Humeniuk claimed to have found the paintings, and said he was willing to hand them over.
“He said his battalion had found all 24 painting in a villa belonging to former president Viktor Yanukovych while fighting Russian separatists in the east of the country,” claimed Geerdink.