Not since the disappearance of the Mona Lisa in 1911 has the art world been gripped by a mystery so thrilling. We are talking about the daring heist at the Van Gogh Museum in 2002 that led to the disappearance of View of the Sea at Scheveningen (1882) and Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen (1884-85). At the time of their disappearance, the New York Times reported that the paintings were together worth an estimated USD 4 million and even the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) listed it as one of its top 10 art crimes.
Both pieces were created before the Dutch master developed his signature style of dramatic brush work and vivid expressions. View of the Sea at Scheveningen (1882) was painted during Van Gogh’s time at The Hague and notable for the use of paint as he had been focused on drawing up to that point in time. Meanwhile, Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen (1884-85) is an image of the church where Van Gogh’s father was a pastor and painted as a gift for his mother who was recovering from a broken leg.
In a twist fit for a Hollywood movie, the paintings were discovered in an Italian mafia’s lair and have now returned home to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam after 14 years of mystery. In recognising the efforts and contribution of the Italian Guardia di Finanza and other competent authorities, the Embassy of Italy in The Netherlands called out to major brands of ‘Made in Italy’ to contribute to the Museum’s efforts to restore the two masterpieces- and it was Bulgari who answered this call.
The Italian jeweller has always had a long-held belief that jewellery and art share the same creative in designing, moulding and finishing unique pieces whose vocation it is to remain eternal. Thus in its support for the arts, Bulgari has aided in providing funds for the restoration and homecoming of the two paintings.
In celebration of the Van Gogh paintings and Bulgari’s generosity, a homecoming soiree was recently held at the Van Gogh Museum. Scroll through the gallery below to witness the special event:
Bulgari has always acted as a patron of the arts, placing great value on preserving and restoring art in all its forms, just recently restoring the Spanish Steps and mosaic tiles of the Caracalla baths in Rome.
Photos by Getty Images for Bulgari