Dutch police mounted a sting operation to recover 8 paintings stolen from Noortman Master Paintings 22 years ago. Intermediaries from Dubai contacted a private detective who had worked on the case in the hope of selling the paintings back to the insurance company:
The Dutch National Prosecutor’s Office said that this led to the recovery of the paintings by David Teniers, Willem van de Velde, Jan Brueghel the Younger, Eva Gonzalès, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Paul-Desiré Trouillebert.
Two of the pictures were said to be badly damaged after having been folded. Six were found in the southern Dutch town of Valkenburg and two more in the nearby village of Walem. [ . . . ]
Prosecutors said in a statement that three suspects have been arrested: a 45-year-old German man who lives in Dubai, his 62-year-old mother from Belgium and a 66-year-old man from Walem. All three suspects, whose identities were not released, were due to appear in court today.
The fate of a ninth missing masterpiece from the same collection is still unknown, but Mr Zuidema has told police that he believes it was destroyed by Mr Noortman.
Mr Zuidema has told the Dutch news agency Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau that he had suspicions all along about the gallery owner, who died two years ago.
It reported Mr Zuidema as saying that, after his own investigation, he concluded that Mr Noortman was likely to have been involved in the disappearance of the paintings.
“I shared my findings about him with the police in Maastricht,” he is reported to have said. “But in the end it did not lead to the finding of the paintings.” The insurance bounty was paid out to Mr Noortman, who had acquired the works and insured them for their full market value shortly before the disappearance.
According to the private detective, Mr Noortman at the time said: “Stolen is sold.”
Dutch Police Recover Eight Masterpieces Missing for 22 Years (Times of London)