Rembrandt Art Heist Foiled by Police
Intruder chased down by officers after removing treasures from Dulwich Picture Gallery Rembrandts' Light at Dulwich Picture Gallery
An attempted heist of two Rembrandt paintings from Dulwich Picture Gallery was last night foiled in dramatic fashion by police after they pursued a would-be thief through the grounds of the gallery to recover the works of the 17th-century Dutch master.
Intruders broke into the south London gallery late on Wednesday night, targeting the Rembrandt’s Light exhibition featuring works by one of the world’s greatest artists. After an alarm had gone off, officers were called to the gallery at 11.30pm, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Finding signs of forced entry and two pictures missing, the officers searched the area around the gallery, where they encountered an intruder and gave chase. “The intruder then turned and used a canister to spray the officer in the face with an unknown substance. As a result of this assault, the suspect was able to get away,” the Metropolitan Police said in the statement, adding that the officer who was sprayed did not suffer serious injuries.
The paintings were then located and recovered by the police and the gallery’s security staff. “Neither painting had left the gallery grounds and both remain in the gallery’s care,” the statement said. Jason Barber, a Metropolitan Police detective inspector, said: “This was an audacious attempted burglary and was clearly planned in advance. Two paintings in the exhibition were targeted and it was only down to the prompt response of gallery security staff and the courage and swift intervention of officers that these two works of art were not stolen. Thankfully both the paintings were quickly recovered and secured.”
“Our enquiries now centre on finding whoever was responsible for this crime and I would ask anyone with information to call police.” The gallery said the intrusion had been detected by its security systems, including a new “state of the art” alarm system installed specifically for the Rembrandt’s Light exhibition and certified by Arts Council England. “On-site security staff responded immediately, as did the Metropolitan Police who arrived within minutes,” the gallery said.
Asked whether the paintings had sustained any damage as a result of the botched raid, the gallery said its senior curatorial staff were working with advisers to assess the impact on the two works. The gallery has closed its doors until further notice while the police conduct an investigation. It said it would compensate those who had paid for tickets to the show, which opened on October 4 and was due to end on February 2. It declined to say which of the 35 pictures in the show had been removed but many had been on loan, including from the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Highlights included “Philemon and Baucis”, which was appearing in the UK for the first time; “Christ and St Mary Magdalen at the Tomb”; and three of Rembrandt’s best-known paintings of women: “A Woman Bathing in a Stream”, “A Woman in Bed” and the gallery’s own Rembrandt, “Girl at a Window”. Rembrandt’s prominence has been boosted over the past year as galleries around the world have marked the 350th anniversary of his death in 1669.
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