A broken frame, and DNA traces, led to arrest in van Gogh theft

A broken frame, and DNA traces, led to arrest in van Gogh theft

Nils M. was no rookie art thief. But prosecutors say he left behind DNA evidence on a broken picture frame at one museum and on a heavy-duty strap at another that helped Dutch investigators identify him as the man who stole paintings by van Gogh and Frans Hals in two daring heists. A match in their database led them to the 59-year-old defendant who had previously served a five-year prison sentence for stealing a 17th-century gilded silver monstrance, or church vessel, from a museum in Gouda in 2012. During that theft, Nils M. — who is being identified without his full surname because of Dutch privacy laws — used explosives to blow open the museum door. In the more recent thefts, prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of eight years for what they described as “exceptional crimes” that were committed with an as yet unidentified partner. The paintings — the van Gogh had an insured value of 2.5 million euros (about $2.9 million), and the Hals was valued at between 10 and 15 million euro
Nils M. was no rookie art thief. But prosecutors say he left behind DNA evidence on a broken picture frame at one museum and on a heavy-duty strap at another that helped Dutch investigators identify him as the man who stole paintings by van Gogh and Frans Hals in two daring heists. A match in their database led them to the 59-year-old defendant who had previously served a five-year prison sentence for stealing a 17th-century gilded silver monstrance, or church vessel, from a museum in Gouda in 2012. During that theft, Nils M. — who is being identified without his full surname because of Dutch privacy laws — used explosives to blow open the museum door. In the more recent thefts, prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of eight years for what they described as “exceptional crimes” that were committed with an as yet unidentified partner. The paintings — the van Gogh had an insured value of 2.5 million euros (about $2.9 million), and the Hals was valued at between 10 and 15 million euro