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Tax Inspectors Uncover a Stolen Van Gogh Painting

May 14, 2014

A group of tax inspectors in Spain were surprised to find a long-lost painting from the brush of Vincent Van Gogh inside the safety deposit box of a tax scofflaw.

Spanish authorities have been cracking down on tax delinquents as the country slowly emerges from recession. As part of the effort, the tax authorities got access to 542 bank safety deposit boxes of 551 individuals who owed over 300 million euros in taxes in an effort to seize some of their hidden assets.

They found a secret prize in the safety deposit box of one tax debtor, an 1889 Impressionist landscape entitled “Cypress, Sky and Country,” which went missing from a museum in Vienna nearly 40 years ago, according to Reuters.

The 13.7- by 12.5-inch painting has not yet been authenticated, but so far the tax authorities have managed to seize about 2 million euros worth of assets from the safety deposit boxes they’ve been able to open so far. Over a hundred of the boxes have not been opened yet because of court challenges, according to Artnet News. A photo of the recovered painting is shown in the Artnet article. The self-portrait in this article is a public domain image of one of Van Gogh's paintings, which thankfully remains on exhibit at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

There’s no telling what the tax inspectors will find next. Maybe Vincent’s missing ear?

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