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Two jailed over Van Gogh thefts  July 25, 2004

Two men have been jailed over the theft of a pair of Van Gogh paintings, stolen from a museum in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh's View of the Sea at Scheveningen is still missing

Octave Durham, 31, received a sentence of four and a half years, while a man identified only as Henk B, also 31, received four years.

The thieves were arrested separately in 2003, in Spain and in Amsterdam.

The Van Gogh Museum has put in a claim for 1.8m euros for the two uninsured paintings, which were stolen in 2002 and have never been recovered.

However the judge rejected the bid for damages, saying the true value of the paintings - Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen and View of the Sea at Scheveningen - was unknown.

The museum is considering launching a civil action to recoup the money.


The thieves evaded the museum's security system with apparent ease in December 2002, smashing a window, snatching the paintings and fleeing before police arrived at the scene.

Both men had pleaded innocent, with their lawyers claiming they were framed, but DNA evidence placed them at the scene of the crime.

Lawyers for both men said they planned to appeal.

Octave Durham is known to the police as The Monkey because of his ability to evade arrest.

Judge Ge Janssen said the pair "only cared about money" and "hurt the whole world of art" with their actions.

It was the second time the Van Gogh Museum, which houses more than 200 works by the Dutch master, has been targeted by thieves since it opened in 1973.



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