An invaluable Van Gogh in the hands of a Thai woman?

THE Lord Buddha says you will suffer from what you possess and this is probably proving true for a Thai singer, who has spent over three years proving her painting bought six years ago, is the work of Vincent Van Gogh.

She told the press that if it is proven to be true, she would not be able to own it anymore as it would be too valuable for her to keep while making her and her family unsafe.

If the painting she bought at 1,000 baht is proven to be the work of Van Gogh, the value of the painting could be as high as 3,200 million baht.

Haruthai Muangbunsri, 43, purchased the painting as part of a collection of artwork from a furniture store in Bangkok which imports antiques from Europe, but no one could ever have dreamt that such an important piece may have made its way there.

Is this a Vincent Van Gogh

She recalled the day she went to look for paintings and furniture to decorate her new home six years ago that she picked up some ten old paintings from a container just arrived from Europe and this painting, which she called “Trees in Winter” was one of them.

Miss Haruthai, who has a degree in fine arts, had no idea that the piece she purchased as part of a bulk buy could be genuine. She believed it to be an imitation.

Later, around three years ago, she decided to invite an art historian to take a look at her collection, and that was the beginning of what has changed her life till now. She was astounded to hear that it could be the real Van Gogh painting.

The historian from Chulalongkorn University told her that he believed no one other than Van Gogh himself could have achieved such a particular style.

The Thai rock star then contacted the Van Gogh Museum in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam to confirm the painting by submitting photographs to them, but it turned out the Van Gogh Museum rejected it.

She did not stop there.  She continued to do scientific research during the past three years by working with researchers from the Synchrotron Light Research Institute and Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology.

Scientific tests have since been conducted on the painting, with some samplings being sent to verify in Switzerland.

The tests shows that the painting dates back to 1888, two years before Van Gogh’s death, and paint used on the canvas came from Arles in France where Van Gogh lived.

“We found the red paint was made with red earth and madder, which is found only in Arles in France,” Dr Sasiphan Khaweerat from the Synchrotron Light Research Institute said.

Miss Haruthai said she has asked the Van Gogh Museum to take a look at the piece again to certify.

“If it is authenticated, I will no longer be able to keep this painting,” she said, adding it may have to go to the museum.

“Somebody asked me if I would sell the painting. I told them I am not happy to answer the question right now.”

At present, she has been quite upset that the news about her story has been criticized online by the Thai netizens, who focused on different matters like “Van Gogh ghost” that Haruthai claimed has been haunting her.

Some artists and academics also came out to criticize her saying it is not possible that the panting is genuine.


Top and in-text: Miss Haruthai and the painting she has named “Trees in Winter” which shs is working hard to prove is a genuine work by Vincent Van Gogh.

By Kowit Sanandang