337 Here’s to Vincent and Theo, Anna, Eugène and Octave

The legendary single sale of a painting by Vincent van Gogh in his lifetime is not the art market discovery it is usually taken to be. It has a rich and moving background involving a cast of admirable characters, not least of them Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, who in Brussels challenged a vilifier of van Gogh to a duel. Continue reading “337 Here’s to Vincent and Theo, Anna, Eugène and Octave”

327 Van Gogh painting newly rediscovered again

The Van Gogh Museum has put on display a painting by van Gogh of the plains below the ruins of the abbey of Montmajour. The museum calls it a “new discovery,” although it has known the painting for 22 years and in the past rejected its authenticity. The Van Gogh is not telling us as much as it should. Continue reading “327 Van Gogh painting newly rediscovered again”

233 The cost of art theft to the thief

The Dutch courts are overly lenient in punishing thefts from public museums in the Netherlands, which are on the rise. An anecdotal comparison between thefts from the Strawbery Banke museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam yields a ratio of ten to one between American versus Dutch sentencing. Because the prospect of a heavy sentence may induce a thief to help the police recover the loot, longer terms are called for. Continue reading “233 The cost of art theft to the thief”

154 The transparent connoisseur 1

The Van Gogh Museum did not take kindly to my column of January 19th (“The saga of Bouwe Jans”). The museum feels that I criticized it unfairly for the way it handled a request for an expert opinion on the authorship of a possible van Gogh painting. I promised the museum, by way of response, to elaborate on the recommendations in my piece. I do this in print because my remarks were not intended only for the Van Gogh Museum – which I am sure behaved in all good faith in this matter – but for any body, museum or not, that proffers expert opinions on sensitive subjects to the public. Continue reading “154 The transparent connoisseur 1”

149 The saga of Bouwe Jans

The Van Gogh Museum has the good fortune of having acquired a tenacious, articulate, unforgiving critic with enough right on his side to teach it a valuable lesson. Whether the museum sees it that way I do not know; I‘m sure that I would not enjoy reading about myself the kind of things that the Dutch-English art dealer Bouwe Jans has published about the museum in his cantankerous book Artquakes and van Gogh. Yet the Van Gogh Museum and other arbiters of authenticity do have much to learn from his report. Continue reading “149 The saga of Bouwe Jans”