March 30, 2019

Dutch art detective retrieves stolen Picasso after 20 years

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 11:36 pm

A Dutch “art detective” from Amsterdam called Arthur Brand has managed to lay his hands on Buste de Femme (Dora Maar), a painting that had been lost since 1999, The Guardian reported yesterday.

On 14 March 2019, two men “with contacts in the underworld” handed Brand the stolen Picasso in his apartment in the east of Amsterdam. According to Brand, stolen art can often be a hot potato. It is difficult to sell and in the meantime the thief or fence is stuck with a stolen item that, if found in their possession, can lead to awkward questions from the authorities.

Having gotten wind of the Picasso, Brand let it be known that he was interested in the painting, worth an estimated 25 million euro.

Brand, whose motto is “if they start to threaten you, you know you are on the right trail”, recovered a pair of bronze horses by Josef Thorak in 2015. The year after he negotiated the return of five stolen painting held by a Ukranian militia.

A day after receiving the painting, he handed it over to representatives of the insurance company.

Pablo Picasso painted the work in 1938.

(Illustration: Pablo Picasso)

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November 30, 2018

Dutch massively encroach on municipal ground

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 4:40 pm

According to research conducted and recently published by the University of Groningen, some 100,000 Dutch folks are guilty of ‘stealing’ (‘encroaching on’) municipal ground when they build extensions to their gardens, driveways and houses.

The research looked at five municipalities: four of them had folks doing some serious encroachment, on average 20 to 40 square metres, with a few whoppers of more than 400 square metres.

When the city comes asking for its ground back, it often leads to court cases and claims that there’s a statute of limitations, with people getting away with the ‘theft’. The idea is to modify the law, so that cities can ask for their land back at any time, which I imagine would deter people from stealing it in the first place. In the case of an entire house partially built on municipal ground, that’s going to be difficult to rectify.


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November 2, 2018

Bitcoins wrongly seized, owner loses big

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 12:15 pm


Last week, Dutch news site wrote about a case from 2014 where the Public Prosecutor had confiscated 712 bitcoins as a result of a man having stolen electricity to mine said Bitcoins. The problem was that the judge could not determine whether the Bitcoins were mined using the stolen electricity or not.

The authorities first found 127 Bitcoins and later uncovered 585 more, for a total of 712 bitcoins. The 585 bitcoins were seized then sold, as it would have taken more effort to keep them then to sell them, a perfectly legal action according to Dutch lawyer and blogger Arnoud Engelfriet. Then again, this point is being discussed at length: why not keep the Bitcoin wallet containing the information and keys to be able to maintain the wallet?

The condition for selling seized things is that ‘their value can be determined easily’, which is not the case with Bitcoins. Selling the 127 was fine, but not the 585 found later because it could not be proven that they were mined using stolen electricity. The value of the 585 Bitcoins had to be paid to the owner, but today they would have been worth about 3.3 million euro, meaning the man is being ‘cheated’ out of a hell of a lot of money. The fact that he is a petty thief doesn’t seem to outweigh the feeling that a lot of money was lost by wrongly selling the Bitcoins.

According to jurisprudence, the value must be determined at the moment of confiscation, February 2014. The Bitcoins to be returned were then valued at the rate one week after their confiscation, €268,46 per Bitcoin, for an amount of €157.179,55.

Should we not care simply because the man was a thief in the first place? Should we be worried that in the future, courts will be slow to determine the value of Bitcoins in cases and have this sort of problem occur again? Shouldn’t we be even more worried about how dangerous it is to steal electricity?

Possibly the weirdest thing we have wrote about Bitcoins the last couple of years is the Dutchman who had a Bitcoin wallet injected into his hand, and a few other things as well.

(Links:,,, Photo by BTC Keychain, some rights reserved)

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August 9, 2018

De Kooning painting stolen by couple 30 years ago

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 6:47 pm

American couple Jerry and Rita Alter have been posthumously identified as having stolen the painting ‘Woman-Ochre’ by Dutch abstract impressionist Willem de Kooning.

For decades, the painting now worth 160 million US dollars was hanging on the bedroom wall of the couple’s home in New Mexico. It was discovered last year by an antique dealer, as it was part of the belongings of the deceased couple. Jerry Alter died in 2012 at 81, while his wife Rita, who also died aged 81, did so in 2017.

The painting was stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson more than 30 years ago, and the couple was definitely in town when that happened. The Arizona Republic newspaper reported that a family photo had surfaced, showing that the day before the painting vanished, the couple was in Tucson, Arizona.

The theft was simple: the couple showed up early at the museum, early enough to be let in, but not too early to be told to wait. Rita distracted the guard while Jerry went in, cut out the painting, rolled it up, and put it under his coat. They then had a quick 15-minute visit and left with the painting.

According to The Washington Post, the works of De Kooning remain among the most marketable in the world. We told you in July about some works by De Kooning found in a storage locker worth quite a bit.


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June 7, 2018

The purrfect cat crime in Purmerend

Filed under: Animals by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am


In a street in the city of Purmerend, North Holland, swimsuits, dolls’ clothing and baby blankets were mysteriously disappearing, something that was happening to several neighbours.

First, the neighbourhood blamed the children for misplacing their belongings, but at some point, there was more thieving and the thief had not been found. Local resident Stephan de Vries solved the case by placing a security camera only to discover that a white cat was stealing all the stuff.

De Vries found the cat’s owner who was on vacation. The neighbours hope that the owner will keep the cat indoors after his vacation. I doubt it, since most people let their cat wander outdoors as much as they can here, but it’s a reasonable request.

And they still have to find out the where the kleptomaniac cat’s stash is.

(Link:, Photo of cat in a box by Hehaden, some rights reserved)

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May 31, 2017

Thieves break into give-away shop, take nothing

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 7:37 pm


In a give-away shop, people can come and take stuff. Sure, sometimes there are limits, but the stuff is still free and the shop has no use for money whatsoever.

Oddly enough, some thieves decided to bust into the give-away shop in Zeist, Utrecht and leave all their tools behind. The thieves came in at night, forced open the doors with a crowbar which they left along with some screwdrivers. And they didn’t even take anything.

According to the shop, the place was tossed and the thieves poked around everywhere, possibly trying to find stuff of value. It’s also possible that they were trying to open an old safe in this former school, but the safe has nothing of value in it. The place is going to incur costs to fix, but the shop was open for ‘business’ today already.

I dunno, maybe it was a practice run, albeit a dumb one.

(Link:, Photo of screwdriver by Noel Hankamer, some rights reserved)

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December 17, 2016

Dutchman spies on guy who stole his phone

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 2:03 pm

The sound at the beginning of the film is of a tram in Amsterdam, although this short graduation film by Anthony van der Meer entitled ‘Fine My Phone’ had support from the institution he graduated from, the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.

Every week in the Netherlands 300 police reports are written up for smartphone theft, explains Van der Meer. After having his phone stolen in Amsterdam, he used Find My iPhone and caught ‘a few metres’ of how far his phone went before it was turned off. He wasn’t bothered so much by having his phone stolen, but more that a stranger had access to all his photos, videos, contacts and so on. A thief just has to switch SIM cards and reset the phone for Find My iPhone to be totally useless.

To make this short film, Van der Meer installed spyware on a new phone and purposely let someone steal it. He then remotely recorded audio, photos, and videos from the phone and made a 20 minute film about the guy who stole it.

It’s in Dutch with English subtitles, and a good part of it can be understood visually thanks to many computer screenshots, including one to show us that Arabic appeared on his phone and a few other cool things you should see for yourselves.


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August 7, 2015

FBI releases video of unsolved historical art heist

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 10:20 pm


A video of one of the biggest art heists of all times, which took place in 1990 Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, has been released on YouTube (bizarrely marked as ‘unlisted’) in order to help the FBI find any new leads.

On 18 March 1990 two men dressed as Boston police gained entrance to the museum by telling a security guard they were responding to a disturbance. The guard should not have let them in, got handcuffed, as did his two other colleagues.

The 13 works stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, included paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer, which to this day have not been recovered. Now that the main suspects are deceased, the FBI wants to find these cultural masterpieces. The museum is offering a cool 5 million USD to information leading to the recovery of the stolen artwork as long as they are in good condition. The total amount of artwork stolen is estimated at about 500 million USD.

Look at the surveillance footage linked to the heist:

(Links:,, Photo:

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April 3, 2015

Elderly woman foils six stupid thieves

Filed under: Film,Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:12 am


You’re part of a gang of six guys who have robbed an elderly woman aged 84 of her bank card: what do you do next? You and your mates go and catch the movie ‘Fast & Furious 7’ somewhere in Breda, paying with said bank card and get caught because you all share the IQ of a tree.

The woman noticed her bank card was missing after having bought groceries and probably checked online to see if her card had been used elsewhere, like at the local cinema. The police grabbed the stupid six at the cinema because they bought numbered seats, which is a thing in the Netherlands, along with drinking beer while watching a movie.

A bit like a bad car chase scene, one of the stupid six managed to flee and lock himself in the disabled bathroom only to get caught as well because the cops saw him run into it.

(Link:, Photo of Paris Louvre facepalm by Phelan Riessen, some rights reserved)

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March 21, 2014

French police find stolen ‘not Rembrandt’ in Nice

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 11:13 am


A painting entitled ‘Child with a soap bubble’ attributed to Rembrandt has been recovered in Nice, France 15 years after it had been stolen from the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires of Draguignan, not far from Nice and the Côte d’Azur.

Sounding a bit like a ‘polar’, the French word for ‘crime fiction’, the painting was stolen from the museum in 1999 during a procession for the French national holiday (aka 14 juillet), on 14 July. The alarm went off, but the sound was muffled by the party taking place outside. The 60 cm by 50 cm painting worth about 4 million euro in 1999 has been attributed to Rembrandt, but that is doubtful says France’s Libération newspaper.

Last Tuesday, two middle-aged men tried to sell the painting, which rang some alarm bells figuratively, and they got caught.

Sadly, Rembrandt is one of the most loved artist of thieves, if not the most popular, whether really a Rembrandt or not.

(Link:, Photo

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