13 December 2023, by Emily Proctor

A four-metre-high statue of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has mysteriously disappeared from the city of Assen in the North of the Netherlands. The perpetrators of this strange theft left behind a sign to indicate that the disappearance was part of a prank, with the North of the Netherlands having a strong track record for taking part in pre-New Year’s pranks and jokes.

Four metre-high statue taken from Assen on the night of December 11

The statue went missing from Assen on the night of December 11 and was found to have been replaced by a sign indicating that the theft may be part of an intricate prank. According to RTV Drenthe, the statue, which weighs over 1.000 kilograms, depicts the Dutch painter holding under his left arm the painting “De Turfschuit,” one of only five paintings Van Gogh created while he was in Drenthe in 1883.

A large sign was placed on the stand where the statue previously stood, emblazoned with the words: “I got a bit surprised last night, now I find myself somewhere else with my paintbrush.” The statue has only stood in the city since September 2023 and was placed at the Kop van de Vaart in Assen by the Vaart in Assen Association, for an exhibition organised by Het Drents Museum. 

Association looking at CCTV to find out who the mischievous thieves could be

Though shocked, the association is pleased that the statue’s disappearance appears to be a prank, rather than a crime. “At least we’re glad there’s a sign with it. It shows that it’s a playful act. But it’s clear that we want the statue back soon,” Kjelt Vosjan from the Vaart in Assen association told local media.

The association is currently trying to access security footage from nearby businesses in order to uncover who is responsible for the statue’s disappearance. In the North of the Netherlands, there is a long tradition of pranksters stealing statues and other popular monuments ahead of New Year, only for them to be returned once the festivities are over.

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