“Indiana Jones of the Art World” helps Dutch police recover stolen van Gogh painting

A Dutch art detective returned a Vincent van Gogh painting to a museum Tuesday more than three years after it was stolen. 

Arthur Brand, known as the “Indiana Jones of the Art World,” announced the recovery of “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring,” also known as “Spring Garden,” on his Instagram account. He returned the painting to the Groninger Museum director. 

“A great day for all Van Gogh lovers worldwide,” Brand wrote. 

Brand said he worked closely with Dutch police to recover the painting. It was swiped on March 30, 2020 — van Gogh’s birthday — from The Singer Laren museum, where it was on loan for an exhibition. The museum was closed at the time of the theft to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Police arrested a 58-year-old suspect in 2021, but the painting remained missing. Brand did not share details about how the painting was finally recovered. Groninger Museum director Andreas Blühm also did not elaborate on the recovery, though he said Brand played a key role in the case. 

“The Groninger Museum is extremely happy and relieved that the work is back,” Blühm said. “It is currently in good company in the Van Gogh Museum.”

The artwork will be scientifically examined in the coming months. The Groninger Museum said it hopes to have the painting back on display soon, but it “could take weeks, if not months.”

“The painting has suffered, but is – at first glance – still in good condition,” the museum wrote. 

“The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring” was painted in 1884. It’s an oil on paper painting depicting a person surrounded by trees, with a church tower in the background. The painting is the only van Gogh work in the Groninger Museum’s collection. 

Dutch art detective Arthur Brand poses for a photograph during an interview with AFP in north London on January 20, 2019.

NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images

CBS News has reached out to police in the Netherlands for additional details on the painting’s recovery.

Brand’s accomplishments include returning a stolen Roman statue last year. The sculpture had been taken from Musee du Pays Chatillonnais in December of 1973. He also recovered Salvador Dali’s “Adolescence,” a Picasso painting and “Hitler’s Horses,” sculptures that once stood outside the Nazi leader’s Berlin chancellery.

The art detective in 2017 told “CBS Mornings” that he’s brokered deals with terrorist groups, the mafia and a slew of shady characters in order to track down pieces on the black market.

“On one hand you have the police, insurance companies, collectors, and on the other hand you have the criminals, the art thieves and the forgers. So there are two different kind of worlds, and they do not communicate. So I put myself in the middle,” Brand said.