Hoorn celebrates the return of the stolen paintings


4,320 days after being stolen in a break-in, five 17th century masterpieces are back in Hoorn. In January 2005 24 paintings and 70 items of silverware were stolen from the Westfries Museum. Five paintings were found in Ukraine this spring. Today, 7 October, their return to Hoorn is celebrated amid great interest. The paintings have suffered a lot in the ten years that they were disappeared and are in terrible conditions. The museum has launched a crowdfunding campaign for the restoration.


At exactly 14.30 hrs at the Roode Steen, at the square in front of the museum, a truck of art transporter Imming Logistics arrived. At the monumental gate in front of the museum one of the stolen works, Lady World of Jacob Waben, is pictured on a larger than life cloth with some empty spots. 9 figures from the painting of Waben stepped out of the truck with their instruments, came to life and formed a live scene. Six cases came with the figures from the painting: five contain the paintings that returned toHoornand one is empty. The latter symbolised the 19 paintings and 70 items of silverware that are still lost.

4,320 days

Ad Geerdink, the director of the WestfriesMuseum, had counted the days that the 5 paintings were gone. In his speech he outlined in a nutshell the history from the burglary to the return. He told his audience that the monetary value of the paintings does not outweigh the cultural and emotional value that the art work has for both Hoorn and the museum. ‘They tell the history of the 17th century to which the city of Hoorn owes so much and of which the traces are still visible everywhere.’ He called the return a day with a golden touch, but also a rough touch. The condition of the paintings is indeed pitiful. ‘They have suffered incredibly.’ The costs of the restoration are estimated at least 100,000 Euros, an amount that the museum does not have by a long shot. That’s why he announced the start of a large crowdfunding so as to obtain the still necessary 72,000 Euros.

Importance for the city

The call for a contribution towards the costs of the restoration did not fall on deaf ears. Alderman Judith de Jong of Art and Culture told that themunicipalityofHoornhas decided to pay 5,000 now. “In this way we would like to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign”. I truly hope that we have managed to clarify the importance of this work for the city. And I turn especially to the people who know more about the other paintings and the people involved in the investigation.’ She expressed confidence that the Ukrainian authorities will continue their efforts to track down the stolen art with extra motivation.

Exposition of stolen art

The paintings that have been returned toHoorncan be seen from 8 October up to 13 November at theWestfriesMuseumin a special exhibition on the stolen art. The five paintings can be seen here in the condition in which they were found inUkraine. Two of them, Lady World and Return of Jephthah (both by Jacob Waben) have been reframed. Pheasants Wedding by Hendrik Bogaert and a Kitchen Scene by Floris van Schooten were found rolled up and are also displayed as such, also to prevent more damage. Nieuwstraat inHoornby Izaak Ouwater was delivered at the Dutch embassy at the end of May in a case. It had been purchased by someone in good faith who wants to remain anonymous and wanted to return the painting to the legitimate owner.

Museum open for free for one week

From 8 October up to 16 October the museum will be open for free for more than a week so as to give everyone the opportunity to see the returned paintings with their own eyes. They remain on exhibition until 13 November. On that day the crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the restoration ends. If successful, the paintings will go to a restoration workshop for many months and they will be restored by a team under the direction of by Ronald de Jager. In the autumn of 2017 they will shine again in their former glory in a special exhibition about the phenomenon of looted art. Would you also like to donate?

Please go to https://westfriesmuseum.info.transurl.nl/stolenmasterpieces/

The stolen masterpieces were hand over in Kief September 16th 2016. Click here to read the article about the official handover.

Stolen masterpieces

On the night of January 9 2005, 24 paintings and 70 pieces of silverware, the heart of the 17th and 18th century collection, were stolen from the Westfries Museum during a burglary. For years the city of Hoorn had been hoping that the paintings and the silverware would resurface. Not until 2014 did one of the stolen painting resurface on a Ukrainian website. Five paintings have now been retrieved, namely: a Pheasants Wedding by Hendrick Boogaert, a Kitchen Scene by Floris van Schooten, the Return of Jephta and Lady World both by Jacob Waben and Nieuwstraat in Hoorn by Izaak Ouwater.



Hoorn, 7 October 2016