AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – A Dutch court convicted two men Monday of stealing a pair of paintings valued at more than $2 million from the Van Gogh Museum (search) in Amsterdam, and sentenced them to at least four years in prison each.
Vincent Van Gogh's "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen" (search) and "View of the Sea at Scheveningen" were stolen in December 2002 and have been recovered. The paintings have a combined value of $2.2 million, according to a museum estimate.
Lawyers for both men said they planned to appeal the verdict. The men had pleaded innocent, claiming they were framed. Security cameras and DNA evidence placed them at the scene of the crime.
The thieves defeated the museum's security system with surprising ease, smashing a window in the early hours of the morning and fleeing the scene before police arrived less than five minutes later.
Police tracked the thieves for a year before they were arrested separately, one in Amsterdam and the second in the Spanish resort town of Puerto Banus (search).
The Amsterdam convict, sentenced to four years, is identified in court documents only as 31-year-old Henk B., because of Dutch privacy laws. The other suspect, sentenced to 4 1/2 years, was identified by Spanish authorities as Octave Durham, 31, a Dutchman nicknamed "The Monkey" for his reputation for eluding arrest.