Arrests follow recovery of Strindberg painting

Arrests follow recovery of Strindberg painting
Two people have been arrested in the theft of a valuable painting by Swedish author and dramatist August Strindberg, which was recovered by police Thursday night.

The painting, Night of Jealousy, was stolen two years ago from the Strindberg Museum and is valued at 10 million kronor ($1.6 million).

Police raided a house in a suburb north of Stockholm looking for suspects in a narcotics investigation. Instead of drugs, they stumbled across the Strindberg painting wrapped in a cloth.

The two people in the house at the time were arrested on suspicion of grand larceny and receiving stolen goods.

“Because there may be more suspects, we don’t want to say much more than that,” said Lena Borg of the Stockholm police.

The theft at the Stringberg Museum in central Stockholm was over in a matter of minutes. The perpetrators, believed to be three in number, made their move around lunchtime on February 15th, 2006.

Two distracted the museum’s receptionist; the third slid the painting down off the wall.

The trio then ran down the stairs from the fourth floor and rushed out onto Drottningsgatan, disappearing among the crowd.

There was no trace of the painting until the police raid on Thursday.

“The police called me and I went over to the station on Kungsholmen. It was a fantastic feeling to see the painting again, and I trembled when the police pulled it out. My pulse was racing,” said Stefan Bohman, head of the Strindberg Museum.

“I could see it was the picture straight away. In part because the painting and the frame seemed to be right, and in part because it still had an inscription which Strindberg had written to Fraulein Frida Uhl, who later became his wife,” added Bohman.

The painting remains in the hands of police for further examination. The next step will be to have someone from the National Museum inspect the work.

“But all signs point to this being the painting,” said Bohman.

Strindberg painted the work in Berlin in 1893 as a gift for his fiancé Frida Uhl. The museum is now awaiting a safe return for the recovered treasure.

“We’ve created a security system of the highest quality. One would likely have to bomb it in order to break through. For me, the painting is an invaluable piece of our cultural heritage,” said Bohman