Dulwich Picture Gallery is closed to visitors “until further notice” after an intruder broke in and attempted to steal two paintings on display in the Rembrandt’s Light exhibition last week.
Police have described the incident as an “audacious attempted burglary” that had been planned in advance. According to reports, the thief broke in around 11.30pm and was able to remove the paintings from the gallery.
A burglar alarm alerted police and the gallery’s security staff to the break-in. During the response, one officer was sprayed in the face with an unknown substance, enabling the thief to escape. The police then searched the grounds and found the artworks abandoned in the undergrowth. The paintings are being assessed for damage by curators and other experts.
In a statement, the Dulwich Picture Gallery said: “The intruders were detected by the gallery’s robust security systems and, thanks to the immediate intervention of security staff and the swift response of the Metropolitan Police, the paintings were secured at the scene. The exhibition and gallery will remain closed until further notice, to allow the police to conduct a full investigation into the incident."
Art experts believe the paintings were likely to have been targeted for ransom. The Rembrandt’s Light exhibition opened last month and is due to run at the gallery until February 2020.