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Two stolen Van Gogh paintings recovered after 14 years

AMSTERDAM — Two stolen Vincent Van Gogh paintings worth $30 million were recovered by police after a 14-year search, officials said Friday.

Two men used a ladder to climb to the roof of the Van Gogh Museum in 2002, break in and make off with the paintings. The thieves were convicted in late 2003, but it took police years of investigation to find the stolen paintings.

“Seascape at Scheveningen” and “Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen” were found in Naples, Italy with some signs of damage.

“After all those years you no longer dare to count on a possible return,” said museum Director Axel Rüger. “The paintings have been found! That I would be able to ever pronounce these words is something I had no longer dared to hope for.”

The seascape is the museum’s only painting from Van Gogh’s period spent in the Hague. Van Gogh painted the church, were his father was the pastor, as a gift for his mother.

Both paintings are being held in Italy as evidence in the criminal investigation and it is not yet clear when they will be returned to the museum.

“We have been waiting for this moment for 14 years,” Rüger said. “And naturally the only thing you want is to take them straight home with you. But we will have to exercise a little bit more patience.”