‘It’s shortly before 8am in central Amsterdam on Saturday 7 December 2002,” says Andrew Graham-Dixon, speaking urgently, striding purposefully along the pavement in his overcoat towards the camera. “A van pulls up, two men unload a ladder and pack some tools into a bag. They leave the vehicle, looking for all the world like two regular workman on a cold winter’s day … ”
Hang on. This is Andrew Graham-Dixon, the art historian, right? Why has he gone all The Cook Report on us? Because he is telling the story of a crime, “the most shocking art crime of the 21st century” no less. And he is thoroughly relishing it, by the looks of things.
Guess what, those two were not just regular workmen on a cold winter’s day. They put on ski masks, put their ladder up against the Van Gogh Museum and smashed their way in, setting off alarms all over the place. But, before the police arrived, they got away, a couple of Van Goghs tucked under their arms. No sunflowers or selfies – early, lesser-known works, but significant and worth tens of millions all the same. The whole operation took 3 min 40 sec; the men disappeared into the city with their ill-gotten gains. Read more