Stolen Dutch masterpieces found in Ukraine ten years after they were taken

Four Dutch masterpieces dating from the 17th century have been recovered by security services in Ukraine more than 10 years after they were stolen from a museum. The paintings – part of a group of 24 works valued at €10 million ($11.3 million) when they went missing in 2005 – were found in the hands of criminal gangs, officials said. No further details were given about their recovery but in December it was reported they were found in a villa belonging to ultranationalists in the east of the country. One was found in March, another a few weeks later and two more on Thursday.

I hope today’s success will help improve Ukraine’s image in the future, particularly in the Netherlands

Ukraine foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin

The paintings disappeared from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, north of Amsterdam, when thieves disabled the alarm system after hiding in the building before closing time on a winter evening. The first two, one by painter Floris van Schooten, were recovered just before a Dutch referendum on closer ties with Ukraine, said Vasyl Hrytsak, head of Ukraine’s SBU State Security Service. "Imagine what a trump we had in our hands that we could have played,“ he said. It was decided not to announce their recovery until the hunt for the other, works by Dutch master Jacob Waben, went on. Some of the other 20 are still thought to be in the hands of the separatists.