AMSTERDAM: A painting by Dutch Golden-Age portraitist Frans Hals has been stolen from a small museum in the Netherlands, police said on Thursday.
The painting, “Two Laughing Boys” dating from 1626, was taken from the Hofje van Aerden Museum in a town near Utrecht before dawn on Thursday, Dutch police said in a statement.
It is the second theft in the Netherlands of a painting from a museum closed to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, after a Van Gogh was stolen from the Singer Laren Museum in March.
“Around 3:30 a.m. the alarm went off, and agents went straight to the museum,” police said in a statement, calling for witnesses. “After the museum’s manager could grant access to the area and building, it emerged that the back door had been forced open and one painting had been stolen.”
A spokesman for the museum referred all questions to the police.
Two Laughing Boys has been stolen twice before in its four-century history, including as recently as 2011, when it was recovered six months later.
The Van Gogh painting taken in Laren, the 1884 “Spring Garden,” has not been recovered.
Hals, a contemporary of Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, was born in the early 1580s in Antwerp and moved as a child to the Dutch city of Haarlem. He began to work as an art restorer before becoming a portrait painter in his own right. He is best known for his painting “The Laughing Cavalier” as well as some of his life-size group portraits. He died in Haarlem 1666.
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