In a remarkable act of daring, eight missing oil paintings were stashed just an hour’s drive from the quiet Danish residence where they were stolen over sixteen years ago.
On March 14, the Art Loss Register (ALR) announced that all eight paintings had been recovered. The key to their rediscovery was a valuable portrait of a seated young woman reading her book by Danish painter Carl Vilhelm Holsøe. One of the eight paintings burgled from the private home in December 2000, it put Danish police on the trail of the remaining works.
When the thefts were first reported, Danish police were were unable to locate either the perpetrator or the missing works. Resigned to the loss, the owners were paid out by an insurance company and the ALR recorded the paintings on their database of stolen art.
But last year, Holsøe’s seated woman re-emerged at an auction house in the United States during a routine ALR due diligence check of the auction house catalogue. It was discovered that the consignor had purchased the work at a Danish auction house located just 50 miles from the scene of the crime in 2000.
Finally on the art thief’s trail, Danish police obtained a search warrant for the house of the original consignor of the portrait to the Danish auction house. It was there, a short distance from the place of the theft, that they uncovered the remaining paintings.
Danish police returned the seven works to the insurer, who is the rightful owner of the paintings. The ALR has negotiated the sale of the Holsøe portrait via the US auction house on the insurer’s behalf.