On December 7, 2002, Dutch-born Octave “The Monkey ” Durham and his accomplice Henk B. put on fake mustaches and used a ladder left against the building by workers to climb to the first floor window and break into the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. After grabbing Van Gogh’s View of the Sea at Scheveningen and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, valued at over $30 million, the two men beat a hasty retreat by escaping down a rope ladder and eluding police. Although both men were nabbed a year later and convicted by DNA evidence left at the crime scene, the works were never recovered. It is believed that the two men sold the works or more intriguingly, stashed them. As Rachael Bell for Trutv.com writes,
Unfortunately, even though the men were captured, the paintings still have not been recovered. It is believed that the men exchanged the art for a large sum of money. Yet, there is also a chance they could have hid the stolen goods, which legally might work in their favor.
Due to a gap in Dutch law, art thieves can “become the owners of stolen private art after 20 years and 30 years for publicly-owned artworks that were stolen,” Julian Radcliffe, the director of the London-based Art Loss Register said in a January 2005 Expatica.com article. That is, if they can prove that they stole the paintings. The evidence they ‘conveniently’ left at the crime scene will attest to that.
The heist made the 2005 list as one of the FBI’s Top Ten Art Crimes