17th-Century Paintings Sent for Cleaning Now 'Untraceable'

Swiss museum suspects 2 'Old Master' artworks were stolen
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2023 3:01 PM CST
Museum Suspects 2 Paintings Sent for Cleaning Were Stolen
There was a fire in the older part of the Kunsthaus Zurich in August.   (Roland zh/Wikipedia)

Switzerland's biggest art museum says two "Old Master" paintings from the 17th century are missing and theft is a definite possibility. The Kunsthaus Zurich says the two paintings— Robert van den Hoecke’s "Soldiers in the Camp" and Dirck de Bray's "Daffodils and Other Flowers in a Glass Vase on a Marble Slab"—are currently "untraceable" and an internal investigation has indicated that they were stolen, not misplaced, Artnet reports. The paintings, both permanently on loan from private collectors, were among 700 artworks the museum sent for cleaning and restoration after a fire in August last year. The van den Hoecke is worth a “medium five-digit sum,” while the de Bray is worth six digits, the museum says.

The museum says police are investigating the apparent theft and it is continuing its own investigation, SwissInfo reports. "For generations, collectors have entrusted the Kunsthaus with their treasures. Almost three quarters of our inventory of paintings and sculptures are permanent loans or gifts from private individuals," museum director Ann Demeester said in a statement. "The possibility that, despite great security precautions, works cannot be found at the moment shakes us." We will "keep eyes and ears open if the works are still in the house," Demeester said. (More art theft stories.)

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