The Gardner Museum Heist Episode We Deserve!

Art Crime Podcast | Season 1 Finale, Episode 14

We finally cover the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft. You’re welcome! For our Season One finale, we give the biggest art theft in history the full Mara and Baker treatment. This episode has it all: piggy backs, Tape Head, Mafia guys, the IRA, wheat toast, Flim-Flam Man, a Julia Child sighting, and some quality time hearing Mara and Baker discuss our time living in Boston. We tell you everything we know about the March 18th, 1990 Boston crime that resulted in the loss of 13 works of art, including a Vermeer and two Rembrandts. Our discussion follows the four-part Netflix documentary on the heist, ‘This is a Robbery’ by the Barnicle Brothers. As we cover the chronology of each Netflix episode, we weave in additional information from WBUR’s Last Seen podcast and other news sources. This is the Gardner heist episode you’ve been waiting for?

Isabella Stewart Gardner Bio,
Learn about the 13 stolen paintings,
This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist, Netflix
Last Seen Podcast,

Find Us
Instagram: @artcrimepod
Twitter: @artcrimepod
Show Notes and Blog: ARTCRIME .blog
Mara on Instagram: @mjvpaints

Theft of Van Gogh’s The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884, One Year Later

It’s been one year since the the brazen smash-and-grab theft of the Van Gogh painting, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring (1884). We look back at the theft, what we know so far, and we explore Van Gogh’s time spent in Nuenen, where he painted the stolen piece.

Update Tue 6 Apr 2021: Just hours after we published this blog post, a 58 year old man was taken into custody, accused of stealing both the Van Gogh Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884 and the Frans Hals Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer. The paintings have yet to be recovered.

A Timeline of What We Know

  • How it started: The Vincent van Gogh painting, The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen was stolen from the Singer Laren museum in Laren, North Holland on Van Gogh’s birthday, March 30th, 2020. The painting was on loan from the Groninger Museum at the time of the theft — which no doubt led to an incredibly awkward conversation between museum directors.
  • Easy Heist: Octave Durham, a convicted thief who stole two van Gogh paintings from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and served time as a result, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “This is the easiest art heist I’ve ever seen. His gear is not even professional. He’s got jeans and Nike sneakers on.”
  • Proof of Life: In June of 2020. photographs of the painting with a copy of the  New York Times  dated May 30th, 2020 were sent to Dutch art detective Arthur Brand.
Above: This image was released by Dutch art detective, Arthur Brand on June 18, 2020
  • August, 2020: RTV Noord reported there were, “strong indications that the stolen Van Gogh painting from the Groninger Museum has now been sold for several hundred thousand euros to Dutch criminals.”
  • February, 2021: De Telegraaf reported the investigation was focused on a suspect currently in jail for a major drug trafficking offense who allegedly paid for the painting’s theft. He hoped that its safe return could be used as a bargaining chip for a reduced sentence, but has so far been unsuccessful.
  • March 29, 2021: On his private Twitter account, Arthur Brand re-posts the May, 2020 proof of life photo with the following comment, “…it’s a year ago that this Van Gogh was stolen in the Netherlands. A suspect has been charged for fencing but the painting is still missing.”
  • How it’s going: On April 02, 2021, replied to Mr. Brand’s tweet to confirm the following status of the case: “Was the thief a ‘smash and grab’ for hire and now the guy who bought it has it hidden by accomplice as possible bargaining chip?” To which Brand replied, “yes.”

Update Tue 6 Apr 2021: Just hours after we published this blog post, a 58 year old man was taken into custody, accused of stealing both the Van Gogh Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884 and the Frans Hals Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer. The paintings have yet to be recovered.

Van Gogh in Neunen

Van Gogh moved in with his parents in Nuenen where his father was a pastor for the Dutch Reformed Church. He lived in Nuenen from December 1883 to November 1885, before moving to Antwerp to continue his education and discover new techniques. 

His father was not thrilled by his arrival in Nuenen, but his parents allowed him to convert a dark and damp laundry/utility room (aka: the mangle room) into his bedroom and studio. In a letter to his brother, Vincent shares his discontent and diagrams the reality of his studio which shared space with coal storage and cesspit.

An excerpt of a letter from Vincent to Theo [March 20, 1884]:
“I would take a slightly roomier studio somewhere, which I need in order to be able to work with a model. The one I have at present has the following geographical location.”

Above: Van Gogh’s diagram (annotated with English) of his bedroom and studio space in Neunen 

“…and my powers of imagination aren’t strong enough to think this an improvement on the situation last year. This doesn’t alter the fact that, if I complain about something, there appear in your letters such passages as: I (Theo) think that your position is better now than last summer. Really?”

The Potato Eaters

Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters
Above: Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters

During that two year period in Nuenen, Van Gogh was prolific, producing hundreds of drawings, paintings, sketches and watercolors, many depicting the daily life of local peasants, including his first famous painting, The Potato Eaters.

In December 1988, thieves stole an early version of The Potato Eaters, and two more Van Gogh paintings; the Weaver’s Interior, and Dried Sunflowers from the Kröller-Müller Museum (located in the Hoge Veluwe National Park in Otterlo, Netherlands). In April 1989, the thieves returned Weaver’s Interior in hopes of receiving a $2.5 million ransom. The police were able to recover the other two Van Gogh paintings on July 14, 1989, but no ransom was paid.

On April 14, 1991, the Vincent van Gogh National Museum was robbed of twenty major paintings including the final version of The Potato Eaters. However, the getaway car caught a flat tire, forcing the criminals to flee and leave all of the paintings behind. The art was recovered just 35 minutes after the robbery.

Related Podcast – Art Crime Podcast Episode 13, Van Gogh, Going, Gone!

Related Van Gogh Biographical Info and Sources:
The Missing Paintings of Vincent van Gogh – artnet News
Peasant Painter – Van Gogh Museum
Parsonage, Etten, The Netherlands | Van Gogh Route
Source of quote from Vincent’s letter to Theo: 440 (443, 364): To Theo van Gogh. Nuenen, on or about Thursday, 20 March 1884. – Vincent van Gogh Letters

Vincent van Gogh, Going, Gone!

Art Crime Podcast | Season 1, Episode 13

You think you know Vincent van Gogh, bro? We go deep into the Vincent van Gogh stacks; his letters, his Neunen studio diagrams, alternate and credible versions of how he lost part of an ear, his less discussed “Peasant Painter” period when he moved back in with his parents and his studio was adjacent to a cesspit. Mara reveals van Gogh’s buddy Paul Gauguin as the total creep he was — a helluva painter, but a terrible creep of a man. The painting at the center of our heist, ‘The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring’ triggers some flashbacks of scary paintings in Mara and Baker’s family homes. Our news is full of bad fakes of renowned artists, plus the story of a young couple who mistook an installation as an invitation to “interact” and leave some marks of their own. Awkward! Next, it’s onto the 2020 theft of Van Gogh’s ‘The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring’, a smash-and-grab job by some casually dressed guy with a sledgehammer. We tell you everything we know, including the most recent update direct from Arthur Brand (aka: the Indiana Jones of the art world!)

Episode References

The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, by Vincent van Gogh
The Potato Eaters, by Vincent van Gogh
Weaver, Interior with Three Small Windows, by Vincent van Gogh
Sunflowers (1887), by Vincent van Gogh

Man admits stealing Andy Warhol paintings and attempting to sell fake versions on eBay | The Independent
All 18 works at show of Spanish artist Maruja Mallo were fakes, say experts | The Guardian
Magic: The Gathering Artist Issues Apology After Art Theft Claims | Bleeding Cool News
Young couple mistakenly vandalizes $440,000 painting in South Korea | Yahoo!
What Do You Do With a Stolen van Gogh? This Thief Knows | New York Times

Peasant Painter (Biographical Info) | Van Gogh Museum
Unsolved Art Heists: The Missing Paintings of Vincent van Gogh | artnet
To Theo van Gogh. Nuenen, on or about Thursday, 20 March 1884. | Vincent van Gogh Letters
The Doctor and Amy travel back in time to meet Vincent Van Gogh and face an invisible monster that only the painter can see. | YouTube
The Museum of the Legion of Honor | 2, rue de la Légion d’honneur (adjoining the Musée d’Orsay) Paris
Born to revolt: Why the French go on strike | France 24
Diagnosing Vincent Van Gogh | PBS News Hour
Security video from the Netherlands’ Singer Laren Museum shows the thief smashing his way through glass doors before leaving with the 1884 artwork tucked under his arm | NBC News

Find Us
Instagram: @artcrimepod
Twitter: @artcrimepod
Show Notes and Blog: ARTCRIME .blog
Mara on Instagram: @mjvpaints

Berthe Morisot and the Political Klepto!

Art Crime Podcast | Season 1, Episode 12

Mara is distracted by Baker and his “butt ball” which is actually just Baker trying to balance on a yoga ball after way too much coffee. BERTHE MORISOT! Learn her name and please use it in equal measure in future references to French impressionists. As you might imagine, she endured all kinds of patriarchal BS. Despite that, she crushed it! She was critically acclaimed and admired by her peers. Mara tells us more about the paint and techniques used in the [to be stolen] Morisot painting, ‘Summer’s Day’ and she pronounces A LOT of French names in this episode too. Baker is baffled by the concept of ‘Queen’s consent’ which is a super dumb parliamentary thing. And finally, the theft! It’s a heist that makes a statement and forces compromise. It also serves as a warning to get your damn affairs in order before you die!

Episode References

‘Summer’s Day’ (1879), by Berthe Morisot
Berthe Morisot Exhibit (Feb 2019 to May 2019)at Dallas Museum of Art
Hanging the Laundry out to Dry, 1875, by Berthe Morisot
Self-Portrait, 1885, by Berthe Morisot
Reading, 1873, by Berthe Morisot
The Boating Party, 1893-1894, by Mary Cassatt

Ghent Altarpiece: ‘most stolen’ artwork has new €30m home in bulletproof glass | The Guardian
Revealed: police barred from searching Queen’s estates for looted artefacts | The Guardian
University of Aberdeen to repatriate looted Nigerian bronze sculpture | BBC

‘Summer’s Day’ (1879 by Morisot) Analysis| artnet
Berthe Morisot: Impressionist Original |speech by Olga Haridge
Art This Week-At the Dallas Museum of Art-Berthe Morisot | Art This Week
Erin L. Thompson, art crime professor
Closer to Van Eyck: The Ghent Altarpiece Restored

Find Us
Instagram: @artcrimepod
Twitter: @artcrimepod
Show Notes and Blog: ARTCRIME .blog
Mara on Instagram: @mjvpaints

Henry Moore and the Two-Ton Score!

Art Crime Podcast | Season 1, Episode 11

Baker is a little disappointed about gatekeeping and elitism in the art community and wishes everyone would stop freaking out about NFTs — and as usual, Mara is the voice of reason who talks him off the ledge. In short, art is for everyone, damnit! We discuss the life of renowned sculptor, Henry Moore, and we pry into his World War I experience and wonder how it may have really influenced his work, and then Baker gets really excited about tank warfare, though to be clear he does not condone war! We share the story of a sleep-deprived roadtrip wherein Mara and Baker hallucinated deer and big horn sheep and then we dive into the latest news which makes us ask the question; do museums even know what they’ve really lost to art crime? We pause for a Star Wars reference, then it’s onto the crime! We’re impressed by the speed and precision required to steal and dismantle a two ton sculpture in the middle of the night, and then we wrap things up with Baker’s thirst for validation and 5 star reviews on Apple Podcasts.

Episode References

Tube Shelter Perspective, by Henry Moore
Shelter Scene: Bunks and Sleepers, by Henry Moore
Shelterers in the Tube, by Henry Moore
Reclining Figure, by Henry Moore
Rock Drill, by Jacob Epstein
Star Wars Prequel Concept Art Designs, by Doug Chiang


Find Us
Instagram: @artcrimepod
Twitter: @artcrimepod
Show Notes and Blog: ARTCRIME .blog
Mara on Instagram: @mjvpaints

The Georgia O’Keeffe 10th Episode Spectacular!

Art Crime Podcast | Season 1, Episode 10

It’s the Art Crime Podcast 10th Episode Spectacular! Starring Georgia O’Keeffe, George Clooney, Boris Johnson, Pierneef, Arthur Wesley Dow, featuring Alfred Stieglitz, and as always your hosts, Mara and Baker! We celebrate Georgia O’Keeffe’s amazing life and career, we roll our eyes at Alfred Stieglitz, and everyone is pretty tired of people referencing vagina in her flower paintings. In the news, we side with George Clooney and agree it’s probably a good time for the Elgin marbles to be returned to Athens, and then we discover and fall in love with the paintings of South African artist Pierneef after reading about secretary-general Ace Magashule’s former bodyguard’s theft of a Pierneef painting. And finally, the case of the Georgia O’Keefe painting thefts in 2004 and the sad ending for a former museum employee and desperate opportunist. This didn’t turn out great for anyone.

Episode References

Red Canna 1919, by Georgia O’Keeffe
No. 21 (Palo Duro Canyon), by Georgia O’Keeffe
Red and Orange Streak, by Georgia O’Keeffe
New York Skyscrapers, by Georgia O’Keeffe
Famous Paintings, by Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef
Ipswich Prints: Lily, 1901, Arthur Wesley Dow

George Clooney Calls for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece | The Greek Reporter
Ace Magashule’s former bodyguard gets 15 years in jail for stealing Pierneef painting | Independent Online
Paris Louvre recovers 16th-century armour stolen nearly 40 years ago | The Guardian

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaii, by Georgia O’Keeffe
Tate Modernist: How Georgia O’Keeffe shaped feminist style | The Guardian
Sotheby’s $44.4M Georgia O’Keeffe Shatters Auction Record for Work by a Female Artist | The Observer
In Hawaii, Georgia O’Keeffe Found a Curious New Way to Look at Nature. An Immersive Show Lets You Mirror Her Journey | Artnet
Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction at Whitney Museum of American Art
Composition by Arthur W. Dow – Free Ebook
Get Involved and Donate to SkyArt!

Find Us
Instagram: @artcrimepod
Twitter: @artcrimepod
Show Notes and Blog: ARTCRIME .blog
Mara on Instagram: @mjvpaints

Henri Matisse and a Case of the Sneaky Sneakies!

Art Crime Podcast | Season 1, Episode 9

We marvel at the roller coaster life and art of Henri Matisse and especially the massive amount of bullsh*t his wife Amelie had to put up with! To his credit and to the dismay of many, Matisse was an artist who refused to compromise and gave all of himself to his art, once telling an interviewer, “I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.” Our thief this episode has a real case of the “sneaky sneakies” according to Mara and we see a similar passion between the thief and our artist, Matisse. In art crime news, a God is returned to Nepal, charges are dropped over a Klimt painting theft, and Walmart steals a portrait from @artbyrizzo and sells it on printed canvasses, NOT cool!

Episode References

Pastoral, by Henri Matisse
Still Life with Gourds (Nature morte aux coloquintes), by Henri Matisse
The Music Lesson, by Henri Matisse
The Cut-Outs, by Henri Matisse
Salome Dancing before Herod, by Gustave Moreau

US museum returns stolen Nepal god | Nepali Times
Prosecutors to Drop Charges in Stolen Klimt Painting | ARTnews
Jeresneyka Rose (@ARTBYRIZZO) was surprised to find Walmart carrying her artwork | Southeast Express

21 Facts About Henri Matisse | Sotheby’s 
‘Matisse’ by Gertrude Stein | Poetry Foundation
Charming Collioure: A Splash of Catalan Culture in France | Rick Steves
Henri Matisse’s Nice | The Telegraph

Find Us
Instagram: @artcrimepod
Twitter: @artcrimepod
Show Notes and Blog: ARTCRIME .blog
Mara on Instagram: @mjvpaints

Lost Boys (1987) Rewatch

Does it hold up? You bet your vampire-fearing ass it does!

I was a little nervous to re-watch this one. Some favorite movies from my teens have been ruined by time and distance, but not this one! The effects, the costume design, the makeup, the goofy self aware one liners, a few little scares thrown in for good measure. It holds up really well!

The rest of the Tweet unrolled for your convenience…

Michael buys a motorcycle jacket from a boardwalk vendor, as one does. #livetweetinglostboys

I always wanted whatever @RealKiefer’s haircut looked like in Stand by Me and then Lost Boys and then Flatliners. AMAZING hair! #livetweetinglostboys

When grandpa scares Diane Wiest and Corey Haim, that scared the buhjeezus out of me in the theater. #livetweetinglostboys

“Maggots, Michael.”
“It’s just noodles, Michael.”

Michael has spent 5 minutes of his life with Star and already he bought a new jacket, considered getting his ear pierced, and drank blood to impress her.

Wait! I think I just heard a sound effect from Hitchcock’s The Birds. The sound when the seagull attacks, it was just used in the scene when the motorcycles swarm grandpa’s house. #livetweetinglostboys

Corey Haim singing in the bathtub is a classic movie scene in my book, the scene culminating in the quote, “My own brother, a goddamn shit-sucking vampire! You wait ’til Mom finds out, buddy!” #livetweetinglostboys

Good golly look at @RealKiefer’s hair, it’s glorious.

I think the Jim Morrison poster in the vampire lair was a set design miss. It’s a miss for me. #livetweetinglostboys

There is some amazing eyewear in this movie, great frames. #livetweetinglostboys

This might be the movie that introduced me to the rules of vampirism. #livetweetinglostboys

“Edgar and Allen Frog?” Ha. #livetweetinglostboys

They crushed the soundtrack on this, holds up 💯! #livetweetinglostboys

Kiefer bites that dude’s head like an apple, ouch. #livetweetinglostboys

Michael and Star are deeply troubled vampires, I forecast a volatile relationship. #livetweetinglostboys

More phenomenal eyewear #livetweetinglostboys

In the daytime, the vampire nest looks like it was decorated by @Anthropologie #livetweetinglostboys

Shout out to @Winter for his performance in Lost Boys during that legendary death scene! #livetweetinglostboys

That flying out of the cave backwards shot was really great, was that a miniature of the vampire den set, then match cut to a shot from a helicopter pulling back from the coast and over water? #livetweetinglostboys

“Michael, they’re HERE!” delivered perfectly by Jami Gertz, so good #livetweetinglostboys

The makeup and effects in this hold up 100%, really great work every body! #livetweetinglostboys

And then the genius character actor Barnard Hughes (RIP 🙏) delivers one of the best all-time last lines of a movie ever. Fight me! #livetweetinglostboys

Followed immediately by Roger friggin Daltry covering ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’ during the credits and it’s AMAZING! #livetweetinglostboys

Ok, that’s a wrap. It holds up really well! I genuinely enjoyed it and not just for nostalgia’s sake. Also? Lots of incredible costume design and styling, well done #livetweetinglostboys

Originally tweeted by Art Crime Podcast | (@artcrimepod) on March 6, 2021.

A Vermeer So Nice They Stole it Twice!

Art Crime Podcast | Season 1, Episode 8

Baker confuses didgeridoo noises for throat singing and Mara suggests he starts a YouTube channel for old ladies who knit. We go deep into the intense drama of Vermeer’s personal life and wonder how many priceless loaves of bread you could buy today in exchange for a Vermeer. Our news items are happy and sad this week; we discuss the recovery of an art theft we discussed way back in Episode 2, and then we say goodbye to the legendary art detective Charles Hill who died on February 20, 2021. RIP, Mr. Hill! Baker imagines a love triangle and betrayal lurking in the Vermeer painting, Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid, but Mara sees something hilariously meta in it all. It’s the painting so nice, thieves stole it twice! First, by intellectual recalcitrant turned freedom fighter, Rose Dugdale and her Irish Republican Army compatriots. Next, it’s an infamous Irish career criminal nicknamed “The General”, Martin Cahill. Finally after two hits, the estate has the good sense to leave the painting’s security to the National Gallery of Ireland, where it hangs today.

Episode References

Fait d’hiver, by Jeff Koons
Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid, by Vermeer

Goldie painting stolen in Hamilton burglary found |
“Painted by a madman”: Mysterious message on “The Scream” was written by Edvard Munch himself, experts reveal | CBS News
Judge rules Koons, Centre Pompidou owe Franck Davidovici €190,000 for copyright infringement | Art Critique
Celebrating the Life of Charles Hill, Legendary Art Recovery Detective,

Jason Mantzoukas on Seth Meyers
Citizen Archivist Missions | National Archive
Jeff Koons Banality (sculpture series) | Wikipedia
Finding of Moses | Wikipedia

Find Us
Instagram: @artcrimepod
Twitter: @artcrimepod
Show Notes and Blog: ARTCRIME .blog
Mara on Instagram: @mjvpaints

Celebrating the Life of Charles Hill, Legendary Art Recovery Detective

“A masterpiece will tell you itself that it’s a masterpiece, it jumps out at you.” – Charles Hill

The art world lost a legend on February 22nd, 2021. Although famous for his 1994 recovery of Munch’s The Scream, retired detective Charles Hill said, “My greatest thrill was finding Vermeer’s Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid, which was stolen from Russborough House in 1986…”[Source: Country Life Magazine| March 16, 2009]

“If Prince Valiant and Philip Marlowe shared custody of a single body,’ says Edward Dolnick, who wrote Stealing the Scream, ‘the result might resemble Charley.’” [Source: Country Life Magazine| March 16, 2009]

“It’s exhilarating to get what you’re going for back. I can actually recover these things and feel as if I’m doing my bit for creation.”

Charles Hill

Tributes from the Art Recovery World

Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) CEO, Lynda Albertson wrote a beautiful tribute for the @ARCA_artcrime blog, as seen and linked in the tweet below:

“His friends called him Charley, never Charles and certainly not Charlie.”

Lynda Albertson
Charles Hill, Art Detective ‘How I recovered The Scream’ – Witness – BBC News

Charles Hill developed an alter-ego for his undercover work, assuming the character Chris Roberts during his 1994 recovery of Munch’s The Scream.

“The character I came up with was Chris Roberts, was a slightly dodgy, mid-Atlantic accented art dealer who was doing some buying for the Getty Museum in Europe,” said Hill.

This was not the first time Hill took on the persona of Chris Roberts. In a Country Life Magazine from March, 2009, Hill explained that sometime in 1983 he, “…put on a mid-Atlantic accent and posed as an art dealer who had Arab buyers lined up for the Vermeer. (i.e. Vermeer’s Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid)

Related Podcast Episode:
Kindly Stop Stealing the Munch! / Art Crime Podcast | Season 1, Episode 6