Aug. 27 (UPI) — Thieves broke into a museum in Leerdam, Netherlands, and stole a 17th century painting by Dutch master Frans Hals, police said Thursday.
The theft happened around 3:30 a.m., Wednesday when the thieves broke into a back door, setting off alarms at the Het Hofje van Aerden museum. The perpetrators were gone by time police arrive.
Dutch national police said the 1626 painting Two Laughing Boys was stolen.
Authorities have launched an investigation into the whereabouts of the painting, utilizing forensic and tactical investigators as well as art theft experts.
“We have no idea where the painting is at this moment,” police spokeswoman Hanneke Sanders told The New York Times.
Two Laughing Boys has been stolen and recovered twice before — once in 1988 along with a Jacob van Ruidael painting, and again in 2011.
Hals, who died in 1666, worked as part of the Dutch Golden Age of painting, which included other masters such as Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn. He was known for his realistic portraits of various members of society, not just the wealthy.