The detective, Ben Zuidema, [who was hired to investigate the theft two decades ago] said that he was contacted out of the blue by a man wanting to sell the paintings back to the insurers for €5 million (£4.5 million). Included in the offer was €1 million for Mr Zuidema to facilitate the deal.The good news is the works were recovered, however many were folded and badly damaged, including this work by Jan Brueghel the Younger.
The story gets stranger with respect to a still-missing ninth work. As the private detective Zuidema told Dutch reporters this still missing work may have been destroyed by the gallery owner Robert Noortman who died two years ago. That is certainly a very serious accusation, and one which Noortman is no longer alive to defend against. He is quoted by the Dutch news agency Algemeen Nederland Persbureau that "I shared my findings about him with the police in Maastricht, . . . But in the end it did not lead to the finding of the paintings."
At the time Noortman claimed that "Stolen is sold". True enough for the bottom line, though it is a pretty distasteful sentiment as these works were lost for 22 years, and have emerged very badly damaged.
(photo credit: Ruben Schipper/EPA)