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

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

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

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

Goya, The Duke, and Free TV for Granny!

Art Crime Podcast | Season 1, Episode 7

Lucky Episode 7! Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (aka: Goya) is our focus this episode and boy do we have a lot to say about him. Mara and Baker are big fans! In our sharing is caring segment, we cover the recent “I just wanted to move the Warhol print for a laugh, I wasn’t going to steal it!” guy in Rochester, NY. Plus that dude who found Viking treasure last week, and then Baker explains why Beeple (Mike Winkelmann) is a low key genius who is mainstreaming NFT art sales with Christie’s. We briefly attempt to explain NFTs and what this Beeple auction at Christie’s might mean for the future of art. All of that and lots more Goya talk, including why his Los Caprichos series reminds Baker of an 80’s thrash metal band.

Episode References

The Duke of Wellington, by Francisco de Goya
Saturn devouring a Son, by Francisco de Goya
Saturn devouring a Son, by Peter Paul Rubens (Baker said Raphael in this episode by accident, sorry!)
Essential Worker 2320, by Beeple
Emoji Warfare , by Beeple

Local man charged in attempted robbery from Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery | The Art Newspaper
An Amateur Metal Detectorist Has Unearthed a Rare Stash of 1,000-Year-Old Viking Jewelry on the Isle of Man | Artnet News
Christie’s to accept cryptocurrency for first time | The Art Newspaper
‘Beeple Mania’: How Mike Winkelmann Makes Millions Selling Pixels, Esquire Magazine
Know your meme, Saturn Devouring his Son
NFTs are transforming the digital art world. |

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

Staying Humble with Rembrandt’s Nose!

Art Crime Podcast | Season 1, Episode 5

We reminisce about our trip to Puerto Rico, the street art of Vieques, and Mara falling into a pothole (with hilarious results, says Baker). We obsess over the evolution of Rembrandt’s nose through 30 years off self-portraits, we spend a little time discussing what was so “golden” about the Dutch Golden Age. We celebrate the [criminally overlooked] genius of some Dutch female painters of the era with a special shout out to Clara Peeters! Our news this week is all about the sometimes complicated topic of restitution, and then Mara jumps into yet another case where poor skylight security leads to a multi-million dollar art heist. Won’t someone please think of the skylights?!

Available wherever you get your podcasts:
Apple | Spotify | Overcast | Google

Episode References

Rembrandt van Rijn, Landscape with Cottages
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self portrait (age 23)
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self portrait (1657)
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar
Clara Peeters, Still Life with Flowers, a Silver-gilt Goblet, Dried Fruit, Sweetmeats, Bread sticks, Wine and a Pewter Pitcher

US Supreme Court sides with Germany in Guelph Treasure case
Survivor in battle to keep Nazi-looted Pissarro masterpiece in France
’We want our riches back’ – the African activist taking treasures from Europe’s museums

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