I need to be careful too, so all that I’m going to do, for now, is link to this story from Great Britain’s Times, which quotes a detective making damaging allegations about the late Maastricht old masters dealer, Robert Noortman, whose gallery was acquired by Sotheby’s in 2006, shortly before his death.
The account in the NY Times’ “Arts Briefly” column, which cites the London Times story as its source, makes this sound like a straighforward painting-recovery story:
Dutch police have recovered eight paintings, including works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro, that were stolen from the Noortman gallery in Maastricht in 1987, The Times of London reported….Prosecutors said police were able to find the paintings, two of which
were badly damaged from being folded, after a recent attempt was made
to sell them back to the insurance company that had paid a substantial
settlement after the 1987 theft.
But David Charter‘s story in the British newspaper, which shows a photo of a creased canvas by Jan Brueghel the
Younger, is much more complicated. Late last night, I e-mailed queries to both Sotheby’s and Noortman Master Paintings (now run by Robert’s son, William). If I receive any reply, I will append an update to this post.
UPDATE: Here’s a much more detailed, eyebrow-raising report, Dutch Art Sting with a Twist, from the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, The National.