More than a decade after thieves stole the Dutch Golden Age paintings from the Westfries Museum, the artworks have finally been returned to their home. It has been more than a decade after they disappeared into what experts believe has been the illicit underground art market. The art pieces belong to the Westfries Museum, located in the Dutch maritime town of Hoorn, and where they will be unveiled on October 7 again.
It was reported that in January 2005, thieves had hidden inside a coffin on display inside the museum before disabling the security system and taking off with 24 paintings and 70 pieces of silverware. It has been reported that the stolen pieces were the bulk of the museum’s 17th and 18th century collection, worth approximately 1.3 million euros ($1.45 million). Since there were no solid leads, and no information about who the thieves were, it was feared for over a decade that the paintings would never be found.
However, in July 2015, the museum’s director, Ad Geerdink, received word that someone from a Ukrainian militia force, a man named Borys Humeniuk, had made contact with the Dutch embassy in Kiev as reported by CNN. It was then reported that the paintings were found far away in Ukraine, where the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists had claimed to have found the paintings, and said that they were willing to transfer them to the Dutch Museum.
It is still not clear who the thieves were and/or how the 5 paintings had got to Ukraine from the small Dutch city. What is for certain as reported here on WCHV website, stolen artwork from around the world are sold in private and underground markets for years after they are stolen from their rightful owners.
By Shokooh Mirzadegi
Mehrgan is one of the greatest and most ancient national festivities of Iranian people, observed on October 7, to denote the beginning of autumn. It is an occasion to celebrate love, light and fidelity and Iranians have observed it for thousands of years.
Unfortunately, by the advent of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, all secular and popular festivities were banned and they were not allowed to be observed in public places. Nevertheless, and as far as it is possible, Iranians celebrate the occasion, far more expanded than the pre-revolution times. Outside Iran, millions of Iranians observe it vastly with enthusiasm and perseverance.
In 2010, the Pasargad Heritage Foundation (PHF), an NGO registered in USA, working for preservation of tangible and intangible heritage of Iran, applied to UNESCO for the registration of Mehrgan as a festivity with its roots in the soil of human regards for nature and mankind’s happiness.
This was a symbolic gesture because UNESCO only accepts those applications in this regard that are made by the governments. Thus, PHF has done so with the hope that in the future the road for Mehregan registration by UNESCO is paved and the bureaucratic procedures are facilitated.