“Two Laughing Boys with a beer mug” has been taken from a museum in Leerdam, after having been stolen in 1988 and again in 2011.
The painting was taken from the Museum Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden in Leerdam before dawn on Wednesday, after robbers forced open the back door, police said in a statement.
The painting, which dates from around 1626, is owned by the museum and has an estimated value of €15m. The same painting was previously stolen in 2011 and 1988. In 1988 it was stolen from the museum along with a painting by Jacob van Ruisdael and recovered three years later. Both paintings were stolen again in 2011, and were missing for six months.
After the last robbery the most valuable works, including the Frans Hals, were kept in a separate area that was only open to visitors under supervision.
Officials of the privately owned museum declined to comment. The museum has been closed since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.
The perpetrators have not yet been traced. The criminal investigation department has started an extensive investigation, in which art theft experts, among others, are cooperating. The police are calling witnesses to report and are looking for more camera images.