Monet painting almost stolen during botched museum raid in the Netherlands

Two men attempted to steal a prized Claude Monet painting from a museum in the Netherlands, though the robbery was foiled and the suspects fled empty-handed, according to Dutch old stone building

Gunshots were fired during the botched raid at the Zaans Museum in Zaandam, just north of Amsterdam, though nobody was injured in the incident, a police statement confirmed.

The oil painting in question, Monet’s “The Voorzaan and the Westerhem,” is currently being inspected for damage, the museum said over email.

The attempted robbery took place at around 10.30 am on Sunday. According to CNN affiliate NOS, museum staff and bystanders intervened and successfully stopped the theft. The two men then fled on a black scooter, which was later recovered by police.

“We are relieved to say that nobody got hurt and that they were unable to steal anything,” the museum’s acting director Marieke Verweij told reporters via email, adding that staff had been “very shocked” by the incident.

The museum was temporarily closed on Monday. It reopened to visitors on Tuesday, though the painting has been removed from the “Monet in Zaandam” exhibition.

“We are currently investigating if the painting has been damaged (in) the incident, meaning we are unable to put it on display at the moment,” Verweij said.

Depicting boats floating along the River Zaan, the muted landscape painting was purchased by the museum in 2015 for over 1.16 million euros ($1.36 million).

Monet painted the river scene on a trip to Zaandam in 1871. It shows the view from the jetty of a hotel where he stayed with his wife and son for four months. Zaandam proved to be a source of inspiration for Monet, with the French artist creating 25 paintings and nine sketches of the city, according to the museum.

In a letter to fellow Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro, Monet said there was “enough to paint for a lifetime” in Zaandam, citing its windmills, colorful houses and “delightful boats.” Windmills can be seen towering over red-roofed homes in the background of “The Voorzaan and the Westerhem.”

Both suspects remain at large, and Dutch police have issued a call for witnesses.a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: "The Voorzaan and the Westerhem" pictured in 2015, after the Zaans Museum purchased it for almost $1.4 million.“The Voorzaan and the Westerhem” pictured in 2015, after the Zaans Museum purchased it for almost $1.4 million.

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