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De Belgische schilder René Alphonse van den Berghe

van den Berghe René Alphonse

René Alphonse van den Berghe was a Belgian artist, art dealer, art thief and forger who was born in 1940 in Nivelles and died in 2020 in Malaga. He was educated at the art academy and worked as an antique dealer, painter and restorer. During his career as an art thief (specializing in religious art, or art dealer as he called it) he has managed to steal more than 6,000 works of art from museums and churches. He was arrested and imprisoned several times. He settled in Spain in 1976 after escaping from Verviers prison while on leave. In 1982 he was arrested and imprisoned in Barcelona. From there he started to negotiate with the judiciary. In exchange for his freedom, he would help to recover the stolen works of art. Within three years, he had managed to trace 1,500 works of art and return them to their rightful owners. He never mentioned names of others who were involved in the theft and sale. Ultimately, he was acquitted of 14 charges for theft of historical and artistic heritage because they were now time-barred.
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