A Dutch court has upheld an eight-year sentence for the daring serial thief who stole nearly $20 million worth of artwork from museums

A man identified only as Nils M. has been sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Frans Hals, worth a total of nearly $20 million, from museums in the Netherlands. Both works are still missing.

An appeals court handed down the maximum sentence to the 59-year-old thief, whose full name has not been released due to Dutch privacy laws, according to the NL Schedules. He stole the canvases twice in 2020.

Van Gogh‘s painting, From Lentetuin (1884), was stolen in March 2020 from the Singer Laren Museum just outside Amsterdam. M. reportedly had at least one accomplice at the time, although the person has not been identified.

Five months later, in August, the Hals canvas Twee Lachende Jongens disappeared from the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden in Leerdam. Neither institution immediately responded to a request for comment.

Security footage from the flight at the Singer Laren Museum in March 2020.

M. was ordered to pay compensation of more than 8.8 million dollars (8.7 million euros) to the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden museum for the missing Hals. The Singer Laren Museum reportedly did not file a claim for damages.

by Van Gogh Rectory garden the painting was on loan from the Groninger Museum in Groningen when it was stolen around 3 a.m. The frame of the work was later found in the parking lot.

In its decision, the court cited DNA evidence left on parts of the frame that authorities linked to the man. The judges also pointed to similarities between the “targeted” robberies: both occurred atregional museums with relatively small collections where stolen works have stood out as masterpieces of famous names.

The thief’s house in Baarn was only a ten-minute drive from the Singer Laren and less than 45 minutes from the museum in Leerdam near the border of Utrecht and Noord-Brabant, according to a report.

Vincent van Gogh, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring (1884) ©Groninger Museum.

Vincent Van Gogh, The Parsonage Garden in Nuenen in Spring (1884). ©Groningen Museum.

The Van Gogh had an insurance value of around $2.5 million, while the Hals was valued at $16.3 million (€16 million). The court said an insurance company would cover around half the amount of the losses for the Hals.

According to reports, M. previously served a five-year prison sentence for stealing a 17th-century silver-gilt church vase from a museum in Gouda in 2012. In this case, he used explosives to open the museum door. Other convictions cited in the reports include possession of a firearm and ammunition as well as more than 10,000 MDMA tablets.

The eight-year sentence was originally decided in a 2021 Lelystad court verdict and was upheld on appeal. It did, however, reduce the thief’s sentence in a separate case to just 50 days.

M.’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The court said it intended to send a message about the seriousness of the crime.

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