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August 15, 2021

Monet (almost) stolen and shots fired at the Zaans Museum in Zaandam, Netherlands.

Update: 16 August 2021:  14:00 CEST

The Zaans Museum has confirmed that the artwork targeted by thieves was 'De Voorzaan en de Westerhem, painted by Monet and is currently off display while it is being examined for damages.

Shots were fired by suspects fleeing on a stolen black motorcycle or scooter during an attempted theft of a Monet painting this morning at the Zaans Museum in Zaandam, Netherlands. 

During the incident, which occurred at around half-past ten, one culprit attempted to flee the museum carrying the painting from inside the museum.  Upon exiting with the artwork, a bystander attempted to halt the thief's progress by pulling on the robber as he mounted the back of a black motorbike being driven by an accomplice.  During the incident, shots were apparently fired but no one appears to have been injured.  Equally lucky, during the scuffle, the thief released the painting in order to quickly flee the scene. 

While the police have not yet arrested any suspects, their black get-away vehicle was found abandoned on the Zuiderweg in nearby Wijdewormer and will be examined for clues. 

De Voorzaan en de Westerhem, 1871 by Claude Monet 

In 2015 the Zaans Museum purchased 'De Voorzaan en de Westerhem, painted by Monet during the Franco-Prussian War. Monet arrived in Zaandam with his wife Camille Doncieux and their young son, Jean in June 1871 after having stayed in London for almost a year.   Once there he spent four months in Zaandam with his wife and child in 1871 and painting some 25 known paintings, as well as 6 sketches, mostly of the region's scenery and windmills, as well as boats sailing on the Zaan river.  

At the time of 'De Voorzaan en de Westerhem's purchase, the painting, was considered to be the most expensive artwork ever purchased by the Zaans, and was made possible with funds from Vereniging Rembrandt (thanks in part to its BankGiro Loterij Aankoopfonds and its Claude Monet Fund), the Municipality of Zaanstad, the Honig-Laan Fund, Dr. MJ van Toorn and L. Scholten Foundation,  Ir. PM Duyvisfonds, VSBfonds, Koninklijke Ahold, Jacob Heijn Holding BV, BredeNHofstichting, Rabobank Zaanstreek and Monet Foundation in Zaandam.

Only the third museum in the Netherlands to have a Monet produced in Zaandam in its collection. The others are in the Van Gogh Museum and at the Kröller-Müller.  For now, no information has been released by the museum, confirming if the Zanns' Monet was the target and whether the artwork removed from the museum suffered damage during its less than gentle handling by the would-be thieves.