Wednesday 21 April 2021

Museum gets subsidy to buy Constable after losing €2.85m in scam

A View of Hampstead Heath … by John Constable (1824). Photo: Rijksmuseum Twenthe

A museum in Enschede has bought a landscape by John Constable that was previously the subject of a €2.85 million internet scam.

The Rijjksmuseum Twenthe negotiated the purchase of A View of Hampstead Heath: Child’s Hill, Harrow in the Distance from a London art dealer in 2018, but the payment went to a cloned Hong Kong-based bank account.

The dealer and the museum went to court, each claiming the other was liable for the lost payment and denying their online security systems were at fault. A court found in favour of the auction house but said the museum could reclaim the missing money from elsewhere.

The Dutch government has now given the museum a €2.5 million subsidy to help it settle the dispute and acquire the painting, which is already on display in Enschede.

Culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven wrote in a letter to parliament that a mediation process had been undertaken which ‘has enabled the purchase of the painting to go ahead.’

A police investigation into the Hong Kong-based account has failed to identify the perpetrators of the scam, Van Engelshoven added.

Museum director Arnoud Odding told RTV Oost he was relieved that a deal had been agreed but did not go into further detail.

The painting will be included in Rijksmuseum Twenthe’s exhibition Na de jacht! (After the hunt), which will open once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

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