Beloved Frans Hals Painting Stolen For Third Time

It's not the only high-profile art theft this year

Frans Hals painting
This painting has been stolen. A lot.
Creative Commons

In 1626, Frans Hals painted a charming scene, titled Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer. The title tells you precisely what’s in it, and the warmth and joy contained within the painting are undeniable. Which may be why people keep stealing it. The BBC is reporting that Hals’s painting has been purloined for the third time, which is rapidly approaching absurdist levels when it comes to art thefts.

According to the report, the theft came in the town of Leerdam, where the thieves broke in via the back door and secured the painting.

Hals’s painting was first stolen in 1988, and was subsequently recovered in 1991. At the time, it was stolen with a Jacob van Ruisdael painting; the two were again stolen in 2011, and were again recovered after 6 months.

The Hals painting isn’t the only high-profile work to be stolen this year. In March, a Vincent van Gogh painting was taken from the Singer Laren museum, located near Amsterdam.

Why would someone steal a work of art such as this? Art detective Arthur Brand notes that smaller museums are easier to break into, as they lack the state-of-the-art security systems that larger facilities have. The motive, Brand adds, may not be money per se, but instead as a bargaining tool for people seeking shorter sentences.

Examples include drug dealer Kees Houtman who tried to exchange Van Goghs for a reduced sentence in the early 1990s. A Naples mafia boss would later exchange works stolen by art thief Octave Durham from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum in 2002 for his own shorter sentence.

Whatever the motive, the painting itself remains missing — its whereabouts known only to those who made off with it.

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