The Kunsthaus Zurich’s Possible Theft Under the Police Investigation

The Kunsthaus Zurich’s Possible Theft of Two Masters 17th-Century Paintings Is Under the Swiss Police Investigation.

Jan 25, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The Kunsthaus Zurich’s theft
Schweiz Tourismus / Oliver Baer


The Kunsthaus Zurich’s possible painting larceny is under the Swiss police investigation. Switzerland’s largest art museum sent the paintings for cleaning. But then, they never saw them again. First, the museum conducted an internal investigation. Overall, it led to the conclusion that theft possibly happened.


Paintings Sent on Cleaning Due to Fire, Then Went Missing

The Kunsthaus Zurich’s theft
Robert van den Hoecke, Soldiers in the camp (mid-17th century). Courtesy of the Kunsthaus Zürich.


The museum sent two masters paintings on cleaning and restoration due to the recent fire (August 2-3). “The Kunsthaus Zurich is on the lookout for two paintings from its Old Masters collection”, the museum stated on Tuesday. The museum also thinks this could be theft, because of so many conducted unsuccessful investigations.


The two missing paintings are Robert van den Hoecke’s Soldiers in the Camp (no date) and Dirck de Bray’s Daffodils and Other Flowers in a Glass Vase on a Marble Slab (1673). The museum already filed a complaint with unknown individuals, and asked police to start investigating.


The Kunsthaus


Both paintings are private permanent loans. The “Art Loss Register,” the largest database for lost and stolen art, has the  works listed as missing. The fire caused a major cleaning of more than 700 works in their old section. Also, both missing paintings were among those 700 works.

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“Our work does not end with the involvement of the police” – The Kunsthaus Zurich’s Representative

The Kunsthaus


The institution’s director, Ann Demeester said so many collectors over the years had great trust in the museum to keep their pieces safe. Demeester also said that almost seventy-five percent of their inventory came from lengthy loans or private gifts. The museum is shocked that something like this can happen, despite well safety measures.


In order to recover the missing paintings, The Kunsthaus formed a crisis response team. At the same time, the museum is conducting their own private search for the lost works. “Our work does not end with the involvement of the police”, Demeester added. She also stated that the museum speaks to everyone affected by these events.


The Kunsthaus Zurich’s theft
Dirck de Bray, Daffodils and Other Flowers in a Glass Vase on a Marble Slab (1673). Courtesy of the Kunsthaus Zürich.


The museum will also not close their eyes to the possibility of the paintings still being inside the museum. The location of all other pieces is known, but we still need to wait for the update on the recent events. Hopefully, the paintings will be located.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.