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Art genius and old master Rembrandt van Rijn was born in 1606 in the Dutch province of South Holland in Leiden. He died in Amsterdam in 1669. The artwork “Jaco de Gheyn III” was stolen four times from the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
With the dimensions 24.9 x 29.9 cm, the oil painting, like Rembrandt's previous “Self-Portrait” from 1630, is relatively small in contrast to his other masterpieces. The portrait of Jacob de Gheyn III from 1632 was painted on oak wood. You can see a slightly tilted upper body against a neutral background. He's wearing a black coat and a huge white collar over it - as if he's constantly carrying his napkin with him, always ready for a portion of spaghetti with tomato sauce.
In 1632, Maurits Huygens and Jacob de Gheyn III from Utrecht Rembrandt commissioned each of them to create a portrait of them in an identical format. Both portraits have a long history of auctions and legacies. While the portrait of Jacob de Gheyn III can be marveled at today in the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the portrait of Huygens has found its way into the Kunsthalle Hamburg in the past centuries.
In 1764, the painting with the portrait of Maurits Huygens was sold at an auction as part of the art collection of Allard Rudolph van Waay. In 1786 both paintings from the Aubert art collection were auctioned in Paris. In 1807, Noel Joseph Desenfans bequeathed the painting to Sir Francis Bourgeois in London. Four years later, Bourgeois bequeathed it to the later Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London - which he founded together with Margaret and Noel Desenfans.
The painting made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records: it was stolen four times from the Dulwich Picture Gallery: 1966, 1973, 1981 and 1986. Therefore the painting is also called "The Rembrandt to take away".
On December 31, 1966, some thieves entered the Dulwich Picture Gallery by drilling and removing a rarely used door measuring approximately 30 x 60 cm from the outside. This circumvented the alarm system, which was only activated at the entrances and exits. With the diameter of this small opening, only small or frameless paintings could be stolen, including Rembrandt's “Young Girl at the Window” from 1645 and Paul Rubens “The Three Graces” from 1635. At that time, the stolen works of art had a total value of at least 7 Million pounds. Almost 50 years later, Rembrandt's “Jacob de Gheyn III” alone has a value of around 13 million euros. The museum director was probably very stingy, since he only offered a reward of £ 1,000 for the restoration of the paintings.
A few days later, a trail to the thieves was found under the guidance of detective superintendent Charles Hewett. Unemployed ambulance driver Michael Hall was the only thief arrested and sentenced to five years in prison.