15-07-07-2199NE05A Frederik Hendrik Kaemmerer.jpg
Frederik Hendrik Kaemmerer’s pipe-playing shepherd boy and sheep, one of six paintings recovered for the Amsterdam Museum.

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The paintings - with an estimated value of £20,000 - came to the saleroom three years ago from a local vendor whose wife had acquired them in good faith. With catalogue numbers on the back of each frame pointing to the museum provenance, it was soon realised that these were the missing works.

The paintings by 19th century Dutch, Belgian and French artists were part of a large theft of 49 works from the museum's storage depot in 1972.

At the time of the theft, Dutch police registered the stolen pictures on the Art Loss Register database which enabled them to be swiftly identified when they turned up at Gorringes.

Provenance

They were acquired by the vendor's wife in 1991. ATG understands they were sold by a man hoping to buy properties from residents in the care home where she lived. He used the pictures as a way to develop a relationship and sold them at a price well below their true value, though the lady was unaware of this at the time.

The paintings remained with her husband who, on learning their history, cooperated fully with the recovery process and promptly relinquished all rights to the works.

Partner and head of pictures at Gorringes Clifford Lansberry said: "No auctioneer wishes to handle stolen art. While every effort is made to identify stolen artworks, it is particularly difficult to do so when something was stolen many years ago and has now passed into innocent hands."