Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer (ca. 1626–27), a famed painting by Dutch master Frans Hals’s, has been stolen for the third time, according to a report by the Guardian. The work was taken from the Hofje van Aerden museum in Leerdam, a city in the Netherlands.
The painting has been snatched from the institution on two prior occasions, in 1988 and in 2011, when it was pilfered along with Jacob van Ruisdael’s 17th-century painting Forest View with Flowering Elderberry. The Guardian reports that perpetrators of the heist this week broke into the museum through a back door in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer depicts two figures, one donning an elaborate fur hat, grinning at a ceramic jug. The work is valued at €15 million (about $17.7 million). Dutch police said they would undertake an investigation into the event involving art theft and forensic specialists, and ARTnews has reached out to the Hofje van Aerden museum for comment.
Hals is known for his idiosyncratic portraits dating to the Dutch Golden Age. Many of his subjects were wealthy merchants, including Pieter van den Broecke and the Van Campen family, while others were fishermen, musicians, and unnamed individuals in Dutch society.
Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer is not the only high-profile art theft to take place this year. In March, three paintings, including one by Anthony van Dyck, were stolen from a gallery at Oxford University’s Christ Church college. That same month, Vincent van Gogh’s The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring (1884) was taken from the Singer Laren museum in the Netherlands.