THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Smartly dressed robbers wielding what appeared to be weapons and a sledgehammer snatched jewelry in a brazen heist Tuesday at an international art fair in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht. Police quickly made two arrests and said they were hunting more suspects.
Video purporting to be of the robbery and posted on social media and on the website of Dutch broadcaster NOS showed one man, dressed in slacks, sneakers, a jacket and cap pounding at something out of picture with a sledgehammer as an alarm rang. Three other men, also neatly dressed, stood guard around him. At least two appeared to be brandishing guns.
All four ran off together. Photos from the scene that also were posted on social media showed holes smashed in glass display cabinets at the prestigious TEFAF art fair.
Police said nobody was injured in the robbery. They said the robbers had made off with jewelry, but did not elaborate on what they stole or the value.
Police later said that the two suspects they arrested were Belgians, aged 22 and 26, who were detained in a car with Belgian license plates heading toward the Dutch-Belgian border. The police appealed for witnesses with photos or video of the robbery to contact detectives.
TEFAF organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. They later said in a tweet: “Earlier today, #TEFAF was temporarily evacuated due to an incident at the fair. The situation is under control and the fair is still open to visitors and exhibitors.”
The organization later issued a statement saying TEFAF has “robust procedures in the event of a security breach” that were followed as visitors, exhibitors and staff were evacuated.
Displays of costly art, antiquities, design and jewelry at TEFAF draw buyers and collectors from around the world. The fair, which opened its doors this year for the first time since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is slated to run June 25-30. Organizers said 242 dealers from 20 countries were represented this year.