Season 1
Episode 20: Amsterdam: Stealing Van Gogh

Art and crime in Amsterdam.

In Amsterdam, Van Gogh’s paintings are under threat from art thieves. Meet the people stealing them, and the detective trying to get them back. 

Amsterdam is a city of canals and coffeeshops: of charm and sin. Nowhere is this better encapsulated than in its art scene. The Dutch capital is a hub of both contemporary and classic art – from incredible graffiti to world leading institutions like the Van Gogh museum.

Van Gogh still holds a lot of sway in the city – he’s the Netherlands’ most famous artistic son, after all. But his work is also under threat from art thieves. In the twentieth century, Amsterdam has been home to two of the world’s most notorious art thefts, and they were both Van Goghs.

This week, we’re going to meet the man behind one of those heists: Octave Durham, he’s an art thief. But when a Van Gogh is stolen, there’s someone in Amsterdam whose job it is to get them back. We’re going to meet him too: Arthur Brand, he’s an art detective. 

It’s a story straight out of Hollywood, taking us to the heart of stunning art and audacious crime in the Dutch capital.



4 spots where you can see the best art Amsterdam has to offer, and a coffeeshop where you can indulge in legal cannabis instead of caffeine.

    Visit the spiritual home of Van Gogh’s most iconic works – and the scene of the notorious 2002 heist pulled off by Passport guest, Octave Durham.
  2. PAKT
    Get a fascinating look into the thought processes of the Dutch capital’s most exciting young contemporary artists at this non-profit exhibition space.
    Enjoy a unique blend of art, nature, and architecture in an oasis of vibrant colour nestled on the Netherlands’ beautiful coast. Just a short train ride outside the city.
    The scene of the brash, March 2020, Van Gogh theft has a stunning sculpture park, contemporary works, and a whole range of pointillist and impressionist pieces by some of the finest Dutch artists of the 20th century.
    No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to one of the city’s famous coffeeshops – but most are tourist traps. Catch 33 is the real thing, suggested by real art thief and guest of the show, Okkie Durham.


On Instagram: @passportpodcast

On Facebook: @passportpod

On Twitter: @passportpod

On The Web:

Get The Ticket – the Passport newsletter with amazing new stories. 

This episode of Passport was written by Harry Stott and Jennifer Carr, and edited by Harry Stott.

Big thanks to Arthur Brand, Okkie Durham, Evi Vingerling, Bregje Gerritse, Wouter Van Der Laan, and Hugh Welchman for their time and stories about this wonderful city and this utterly mad story.

The music on this episode was written by Nick Turner, with extra tunes from TMG, United Empire Loyalists, Klaatu Verada Necktie, Wolf Dick, Lt. Fitzgibbons’ Men, Finn the Human, The Standard Model, MusicBox, The Beards, Auracle, Fancy Pants, The Home Invasion, Foxy Basey, Kevin Macleod, Edvard Greig, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie and Richard Wagner.

The show is mixed and mastered by Julian Kwasneski.  Eliza Engel is our production assistant.

Stacey Book, Dominique Ferrari, and Avi Glijansky would smash windows, kick down doors, and even saw through metal to get their hands on a Van Gogh, and they also executive produce the show.

Which is hosted by Neil Innes and a man who prefers chilling out with a shmoke and a pancake, Andrés Bartos.

We’ll see you in the next place.


Banner images:
Van Gogh Museum, Photo by Rasmus Kuber on Unsplash
Van Gough, photo by tabitha turner on Unsplash


125_ Amsterdam_VO

[Glass breaking]

ANDRÉS: The smash of glass rings out on a cold night on the outskirts of Amsterdam. It’s March 30th, 2020. It’s 3:15 AM and while the rest of the world are hunkered down in their homes, two audacious, balaclavaed, hammer wielding art thieves are on the hunt.

[Song playing]

NEIL: The place: the Singer Laren Museum. The target: the Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring by Vincent Van Gough, thought to be worth $6 million.

The plan: pull off the boldest art heist of the decade and steal a painting by the world’s most popular artist on the anniversary of his birthday.

ANDRÉS: It’s a smash and grab operation.

[Glass breaking]

ANDRÉS: One masked thief clambers through a broken window and races through the museum’s entrance before he sees his small prize.

An early Van Gogh, dark colors, brooding strokes, a mysterious priest dressed in black looking out at you.

NEIL: He grabs it off the wall and runs for the exit. Van Gogh under one arm. He takes nothing else. 136 years of history and $6 million gone in just a few minutes.

The two thieves hop on a getaway scooter and make off into the night. And no one has seen them or the painting since.


ANDRÉS: But there’s a sense of deja vu. This has all happened before, in the same city and to the same artist. The Singer Laren heist feels like an exact replica of a hit on Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum in 2002.

NEIL: Because Amsterdam – that city of canals and coffee shops, of Rembrandt and Vermeer, and, of course, Van Gogh has been home to two of the 21st centuries most notorious art thefts.

ANDRÉS: Today producers Harry Stott and Jennifer Carr are both headed to the Dutch capital to tell us a story about this remarkable city of art, some equally remarkable art heists and the Netherlands’ most famous son, Vincent Van Gogh.

[Song increases]

NEIL: Welcome to Passport.


ANDRÉS: A destination isn’t always a place.

NEIL: Sometimes it’s a new way of seeing things.

I’m Neil Innes

ANDRÉS: And I’m Andrés Bartos.

NEIL: From Frequency Machine, this is Passport.

ANDRÉS: Your ticket to everywhere.


[Song playing]

NEIL: When you think of art and when you think of the Dutch, you think of a one name, Vincent Van Gogh. Of the Starry Night, the Sunflowers, the lost ear, and the descent into madness. He’s the epitome of the romantic tortured artist, a genius never appreciated in his time.

ANDRÉS: Now, well, it’s fair to say his stock has risen as has Amsterdam’s reputation as an art hub.

If you’re looking for up and coming, contemporary artists or incredible graffiti, Amsterdam has got it. And if you want world-leading art institutions, it’s got those too.

NEIL: The pick of the bunch is the Van Gogh Museum, with an ever-changing canvas of exhibitions that re-imagine his work for today. It’s a touchstone for art lovers across the world.

And if you’re one of them and on your way to Amsterdam, your trip is going to include Van Gogh.

[Song playing]

ANDRÉS: But Vincent is also a favorite for others headed to Amsterdam with more sinister motives. Art thieves.  

NEIL: Van Gogh is one of, if not the most stolen artists of all time. Since the Nazis confiscated various Van Gogh paintings in 1937, more than 40 of his masterpieces have been stolen in 15 different heists from across the world.

ANDRÉS: 28 were taken in the Netherlands, one of the world’s epicenters for the fine art black market. And while all 28 of the Van Goghs nicked in the Netherlands have been recovered, on March 30th, number 29 went missing.

OCTAVE: Amsterdam has one of the biggest networks in the world. The number one spot in Europe. It will beat Barcelona, Madrid.

It will beat Paris. It will beat London if it comes to crime.

NEIL: This is the man behind one of those Van Gogh heists. Octave Durham, he’s an art thief.

OCTAVE: But I think Amsterdam is known for it, you know? It’s Sodom and Gomorrah.


NEIL: In 2002, he actually stole a Van Gogh from the Van Gogh Museum.

ANDRÉS: But there are good guys in this story too, because when paintings are stolen, there are people whose job it is to recover them.

People like Arthur Brand. He’s an art detective.

ARTHUR: People always tell me, why do you know almost every big criminal in the world? And I said, look, if stolen crime would be at the salvation army, I would be sitting there drinking a cup of tea. I’d have to sit with Russian criminals, drinking, drinking vodka, you know, that’s just the way it is.

NEIL: These two guys are both Dutch, both based in Amsterdam. They’re natural adversaries. They were in a cat and mouse hunt over a pair of stolen Van Goghs for years. But in 2020, they’ve been thrust together by the heist at the Singer Laren.

ANDRÉS: It’s a story straight out of Hollywood. One that skips the coffee shops in red light district to go deep in the murky world of art and crime in Amsterdam.

NEIL: Have you guys been to Amsterdam?

ANDRÉS: Oh yes.

NEIL: You’ve been?


NEIL: That was, that was a loaded answer.


JENNIFER: Can you remember it?

ANDRÉS: Yeah. I mean, it was, it’s a very, very weird story because I went with my class, we went with model United Nations, representing Swaziland.

HARRY: There you go.


ANDRÉS: My memory of Amsterdam is going into a museum and coming across a classmate, a friend of mine and he looked very distressed and I was like, you okay?

And he’s like, so I just smoked some hash, and he’s like, I’m freaking out right now.


HARRY: That is the story that you often get I think from Amsterdam is the charming side of it and then the sin, you know?

ANDRÉS: Definitely.


HARRY: You’ve got these two elements where everyone’s basically just in a lovely art museum or by a canal getting really high.

JENNIFER: Yeah. It’s kind of the city of inclusivity, isn’t it on every level.

Anything goes pretty much

HARRY: Which is kind of nice, cause that’s kind of what the story’s doing, isn’t it? It’s kind of straddling the line between charm and sin.

NEIL: The finest crime

ANDRÉS: Just what Amsterdam does.


ANDRÉS: Wow that’s funny.

NEIL: But you’ve picked the champagne of crime, the finest crime possible. Smashing a window and nicking a painting.


NEIL: What is it like sunflower? Doesn’t Van Gogh have like three of the most

ANDRÉS: Yeah, I think Starry Night,

NEIL: Starry Night. Sunflowers

ANDRÉS: Sunflowers

NEIL: Self-portrait

ANDRÉS: One of those self-portraits I’m sure is worth a lot.

NEIL: That’s crazy, crazy money.

JENNIFER: And yet he only sold one painting when he was alive, only sold one.

ANDRÉS: But it definitely is, it’s a cool place to start. Going to Amsterdam was the first time I was ever in Europe, so I had this image of like fog in these canals and these dodgy looking white people going around in these alleyways…

NEIL: Dodgy looking white people

ANDRÉS: Yeah. It’s the first time I got to see that.


ANDRÉS: Yeah. And it was immediately like what’s going on in this town, you know, and where can I get weed?


JENNIFER: Follow the white people, they had too much.


[Song playing]

JENNIFER: Paris steals the limelight for the impressionists, while Rome gets the glory for the 16th century frescoes. And Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is still gilded by the glorious golden age of the 1700s, a time when the Dutch Republic was considered a world leader in trade, art, science, and the military. Today, this grandeur endures.

It’s still seen and felt when you hop on a barge and glide through 100 kilometers of grachten – that’s canals in Dutch.

You’ll feel the full weight of the golden age in the Canal Ring. Not surprisingly, Europeans nickname it the Venice of the North.

Besides Amsterdam’s medieval canals, there’s also 1,500 cobbled bridges to cycle or stroll over, connecting 900 tiny islands in a tapestry of intimate corners, filled with boutiques and bustling cafes, red lit windows and of course, a never-ending sea of bicycles.

In a city with only 800,000 residents, there’s an estimated 881,000 bikes.

[Bike bell]

JENNIFER: The 17th century for many art historians is seen as the moment Amsterdam earned its credentials as an art city with clout.

Baroque masters Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals. Each with their own technique and signature, all unified by an aesthetic characterized by richness, drama, tension, and also ostentatious still lives known as pronkstilleven.

Remember the Girl with the Pearl Earring? That’s a Vermeer and pronkstilleven at its best.

Is there a better word to describe anything, ever?

[Song playing]

HARRY: All that said, the golden age and its sumptuous drama is a far cry from Amsterdam’s artistic sensibility today.

If you speak to the locals, the current arts scene here is low key, laid back and ultra-diverse, a pretty fair description for the Dutch.

The gallery owners are more likely to be smoking spliffs than sipping champagne, unlike the suited and booted art set you’ll find in Europe’s larger art capitals, London, Paris, Brussels.

[People talking and laughing]

HARRY: Amsterdam is a city of immigrants. Over 45% of the people dwelling here are ethnic minorities. Many artists would argue it’s this multicultural mish-mash that feeds the city’s fresh creative pulse, where eye grabbing street art and graffiti mingles with ancient sculptures of past kings or heroes, even heroines.

Amsterdam’s art museums are some of the finest in the world.

Several of them, the Rijksmuseum – the Rembrandt house, the Van Gogh museum, the Stedlijk museum, and the Moco – which features more than one Banksy – are all located in one grand square in the city center called the Museumplein.

Contemporary artists find fertile ground in two of the city’s prestigious art residencies, the Rikesakademie and De Ateliers.

C2ompetition for entry into both is fierce.

[Song playing]

JENNIFER: Struggle seems universal for artists, including Amsterdam’s grand master of color, Van Gogh.

If you take a gaze over the Dutch painter’s short 10 year career, it’s impossible to separate his work and evolving artistic maturity with his much talked about mental struggles.

I chat about this with Bregje Gerritse, the Van Gogh Museum’s newest art historian in training. Already, she’s an oracle for all things Van Gogh. About his past challenges and triumphs, but also how his work and the man himself somehow lives on in the present.

BREGJE: I do think that most people have heard the story about the ear, they’ve heard maybe about suicide and that kind of followed him around. Whereas he’s so much more than that.

Van Gogh is a painter, his life story, you cannot really detach it from the art because it’s so intertwined and it’s so important for people as well.

JENNIFER: Before that Van Gogh turned his hand unsuccessfully to other jobs, but it wasn’t until Van Gogh turned 27, that he began to take drawing seriously.

BREGJE: He works for the first five years in the Netherlands, and then he moves to Paris, which completely changes his palette, his technique, everything changes. And that’s where he starts making the bright colored works that are so famous nowadays.

After two years in Paris, he moves to Arles. And actually, I think that’s the high point of his career. That’s when he’s really hopeful. He wants to start this studio of the South, Gauguin is going to be coming to Arles as well. He really has very big plans for more than art and high hopes and dreams.

JENNIFER: Van Gogh’s much speculated friendship with Paul Gauguin, the French post-impressionist and symbolist best known for his seductive, dark, voluptuous portrayals of Polynesian women, is also a little intriguing, especially Gauguin’s role in Vincent cutting off his own ear.

And only weeks after they’d moved in together to form their own artist in residence.

BREGJE: Vincent’s hopes were so high for the collaboration. There was so much at stake and these were two very stubborn characters living in a tiny, tiny house.

JENNIFER: The situation between the two artists reached boiling point. Vincent suffered an attack that resulted in a self-severed ear.

It’s reported that he wrapped it in paper and gave it to a prostitute in the local village.

This event marked a turning point for Van Gogh. One that ends with him admitting himself into an asylum, but his painting took on a remarkable new tone. He paints The Starry Night from his room in 1889. A work that continues to captivate audiences and be reimagined in numerous modern formats and LED light installations worldwide.

I get the sense that Bregje and so many others in the art world feel he’s metaphorically still alive. I mean, she talks about him in the present tense. It’s kind of endearing and in many senses, he still is.

BREGJE: It’s the feeling that people have when they come to the museum is like, everyone says like, oh, if he could have seen this, if we could have known.

It’s that sentiment. You want to support him and like everyone, everyone’s in his corner.

NEIL: Gauguin.

ANDRÉS: Gauguin. I love the whole, the whole shitty roommate situation between Van Gogh and Gauguin.

NEIL: It’s amazing.

ANDRÉS: I can’t believe they didn’t make a movie about that or maybe they did, I haven’t seen it.

HARRY: The odd couple,

ANDRÉS: but like really odd.


ANDRÉS: I think it was rough on poor Vincent.

JENNIFER: Yeah. I got that impression from Bregje as well. You know, there’s, there was a real, um, a real disappointment, you know, that he wasn’t creating that artist in residence that Van Gogh was dreaming about and, you know, wanted so desperately to make that summer school in Arles.

NEIL: The ear thing. I mean, it’s obviously with the thing that everybody just knows about.

ANDRÉS: You’ve never thought about cutting off your ear?

HARRY: Why the ear?

ANDRÉS: It’s easier than a toe. It had to be dramatic.

JENNIFER: I think, I think he thought that it was a one off though. You know, I think it was like from, from what Bregje was saying to me that he, he shocked himself in the act kind of, you know, outer body experience type thing.

ANDRÉS: Right. But you can see it in his paintings,

NEIL: his craziness,

ANDRÉS: the craziness, but also his particularity. And that way he had of seeing the world. I think that’s why in that interview people had this like relationship with

JENNIFER: Totally. It’s like you’re in the mental struggle with him, you know? And he never, he never could get a job and keep it, and everything was working against him.

His parents didn’t approve of him trying to become a painter. So he was, he was swimming upstream. And I think people really like identify with that.

ANDRÉS: It’s the ultimate artist story.


[Song playing]

HARRY: The Singer Laren theft we heard about at the start, the smashed glass, the dead of night, the $6 million Van Gogh, it shocked the world.

No one knows who the thieves are, where they’ve gone and what they’ve done with the painting, but one thing’s for sure. It’s now in the underworld, this is where stolen paintings always end up being used as a kind of leverage in an illicit drug or arms deal, or even a currency in themselves.

It’s also why they’re so hard to track and find, but not for everyone, because there is someone who knows just how to catch an art thief, someone who can do things the law cannot.

Because to find stolen art, sometimes you need an art detective and in Amsterdam, there lives the world’s finest. His name is Arthur Brand.

ARTHUR: You know, they stole started right under my nose and I thought, oh my god, I never take anything personal in my life. Why should you, you know? It’s mostly business, but this, this case I took very personal.

HARRY: Arthur is the self-styled Indiana Jones of the art world.

He’s a globetrotting maverick who uses his criminal contacts to recover priceless rings, Nazi statues, biblical artifacts, even a Picasso. So when a Van Gogh was stolen in Amsterdam, Arthur’s own backyard, the game was afoot.

ARTHUR: It’s too close to call. I cannot tell you too much now, but I would say if I were the guys who had it or who did it, I would become nervous.

That’s all I can say.

[Song playing]

HARRY: But let’s backtrack. You don’t get to say the words, art detective without really explaining what it is and what it entails because Arthur Brand is not a made up, fictional character and an Agatha Christie novel. He’s a real Dutchman. It took us a little while to get hold of him. He’s pretty elusive, but after some slew thing of our own, we got our man.

ARTHUR: Harry?

HARRY: Hello, Arthur. Hi.

ARTHUR: I just woke up.

HARRY: No worries. How’s it going?

If you Google Arthur, like I did, you see photos of him in black Steve Jobs style turtlenecks or sartorial blazers and Oxford shoes. Very dapper. Very Poirot-esque. But perhaps this was Arthur’s day off because today he was wearing a black tee shirt, sweatpants, and a Dodgers cap, languorously laying back on his sofa chain smoking cigarettes. I mean, he is Dutch after all.

I like the, uh, the Picasso in the background.

ARTHUR: Yeah. I just hung him up yesterday. I had it in my bedroom.

HARRY: Yeah.

ARTHUR: Normally I don’t like to hang up copies, but in this case, the real one had been in the same spot, you know?

HARRY: Above Arthur as we speak is a print of Picasso’s Buste de Femme from 1938, a kaleidoscopic portrait of his muse Dora Maar, all smashing colors and weirdly protruding appendages, a Picasso basically.

But last year in that very same spot, Arthur got to hang up the original just for the night, because he found it. A lost Picasso worth $70 million.

It’s probably his greatest find to date. We’ll hear some more about it soon.

[Song playing]

JENNIFER: And there have been many, many finds for Arthur over the years. He’s tracked down countless stolen paintings and artifacts. Amazingly, he often does it without being reimbursed at all for his efforts. So, our first question is why? And then, how on earth do you get into that line of work?

ARTHUR: Well, I was always interested in history, antiquities, art, the mysteries of the past, you know, and crime. It’s always spectacular. And I started to become an art collector like when I was a student. And then you find out that there were a lot of fakes. So then I started to read about it. And then you read the 30% in the art market is fake.

The art market is one of the biggest markets in the world. You know, 30% is playing fake. And I thought, why is nobody talking about it? Why is nobody investigating this?

JENNIFER: Art crime is big business. Some estimates put it in excess of 6 billion per year. And the CIA reckon the art black market is the fourth most profitable illegal enterprise in the world. Only behind drugs, arms and human trafficking.

And only about five to 10 percent of these stolen works ever make it back to their actual owners. In the Netherlands, the police actually only have one guy dedicated to finding stolen art, which is odd, because Arthur says that the Dutch capital is one of the world’s hotspots for art crime.

ARTHUR: This is a city full of art. And for my work, like, uh, chasing stolen art, you have to be here. Because, you know, art crime is a very international, uh, affair. And, um, most of the famous Dutch criminals are in and around Amsterdam and you have to meet them. And I think that makes it a very special place to, to investigate crime.

[Bike bell]

JENNIFER: This is the weird thing. Amsterdam is a massively safe city, the fourth safest in the world in fact, well above everywhere else in Europe. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an underworld. Amsterdam is well known as a bolt hole for organized crime.

ARTHUR: Those are the people you have to face: the big drug lords, secret services, terrorist groups who are dealing in illicit illegal antiquities.

You know, it’s almost always scary. I’ve seen guns. I have had to deal with people who are killers. I have had meetings in the woods, you know, at two o’clock in the morning with people with, with baklavas on.

JENNIFER: So, this is the world Arthur’s working in – killers and art dealers. Two sides of a priceless ancient coin.

As we found out, walking that line involves holding on to some very basic principles.

ARTHUR: The most important thing is don’t betray anybody. I once had to make a deal with quite a big criminal. I invited him to my home, and we were sitting there, and he said to me, Arthur, my boss told me this, tell this guy, this Arthur Brand, that if he betrays us, we will find out where he lives and we will cut his head off.

I said, look, dude, you’re sitting on my couch. You know where I live, whatever I say is true, because I would never betray you. I don’t want to look over my shoulder and have somebody put grenades through my window. So that’s, that’s their language.

You have to speak their language.

HARRY: Arthur’s discoveries include the 2000-year-old forbidden gospel of Judas, two of Hitler’s most prized horse statues, even Oscar Wilde’s ring.

When Arthur starts on a case, it usually begins with him hearing about it from one of his criminal contacts. He’ll then work with and sometimes without the police to start solving the case.

His most impressive recovery to date has to be the $70 million Picasso.

ARTHUR: So the Picasso, which I recovered last year was stolen in 1999 from the yacht of one of the richest Sheikhs in the world. It normally start with rumors. Somebody called me and said, look, Arthur, there’s a Picasso floating around, a Picasso stolen from a ship.

And then, um, people in Amsterdam started talking about it that it might be in Amsterdam, but I had no clue which painting it was. So I started asking around and somebody told me, look Arthur, this painting you are searching for might’ve been in the hands of a real estate man who had no idea it was stolen. He got it as a payment.

This is his name. So, I told him, look, Mr. blah, blah, blah. I know the whole story. And I go to the police, but you have one chance to tell me your side of the story. And he took the bait, you know, so he told me which Picasso it was, how he got it and that he had passed it on and he had no idea where it what was now, but he could give me some leads.

And I said, well, your story is exactly as I heard it. So, um, you told the truth, you know, I had no idea. So I took it from there and in the end I managed to, to track it, to trace it back.

HARRY: Well what does it feel like then? When you’ve been working on a case for so long and you finally get your hands on it, how does that feel?

ARTHUR: Well, that’s the thing. On the way, sometimes it take 10 years, but then, in the end, you know, you’ll find this, uh, because of the rules, you take it to your home at night, you are there, you take off the plastic and you see this 70, seven, zero, worth million Picasso in your hands. And you know it will be headlines all over the world tomorrow.

And then you put it on your wall for one night, you know, that’s, that’s so exciting and people say, oh, you must be rich. I don’t own anything with these, with these cases, you know, but, uh, who can say they had a Picasso on their wall?

HARRY: You’d think finding a Picasso is about as good as it gets for an art detective, wouldn’t you?

But there’s one artist who holds more sway. For Arthur at least, because Arthur is from Amsterdam and to the Dutch there’s one artist who stands head and shoulders above the rest: Vincent Van Gogh.

But Arthur has never yet recovered a stolen Van Gogh and he’s come close, but not quite. With the heist at the Singer Laren, this might be his year.

ANDRÉS: Arthur Brand.

NEIL: Brand, Arthur Brand.

Does he have a cravat and a monocle?

HARRY: I have seen him in a cravat.

ANDRÉS: Get out.

HARRY: Monocle no, but I have seen him in a cravat. Yeah.

NEIL: It’s so odd. Like him just taking it on his own back to like find these things like,

ANDRÉS: This is the part that I don’t understand.

JENNIFER: Yeah, me neither.

ANDRÉS: I really don’t understand

JENNIFER: No reward.

ANDRÉS: No reward, I mean, what’s going on?

How’s he make his money?

HARRY: Well, I think so he, I think he is still like an antiques dealer, art collector. And I think where the money is coming from is probably, I mean, he’s a very good self-publicist and he’s doing a documentary at the moment. There’s plans for films and various other things which I probably can’t say anything about on a podcast.

Sorry, Arthur. Um, because I guess I think he just does this

JENNIFER: for the love of it

HARRY: for the love of it. Yeah. And so he can hang out with criminals and drink vodka.

ANDRÉS: I was going to say, yeah

NEIL: Just that moment, that moment of getting it back home and un-plasticing it and just putting it on your wall for one day.

It’s such a cinematic, like

JENNIFER: 70-million-dollar wall.

NEIL: Yeah, just for the night.

HARRY: I think he likes the thrill. It feels like.

ANDRÉS: And he loves baklava.

HARRY: He loves baklava.


NEIL: It’s so sweet that he’s got like his white whale as well.


NEIL: It’s like the, it’s just the perfect sort of like I am Dutch. I need to find a Van Gogh.

ANDRÉS: What a perfect way to look at Amsterdam, right? The two sides, Vincent Van Gogh, that image and then this guy.

Arthur Brand.

JENNIFER: The Crusader.


[Song playing]

NEIL: We’ll be back in a minute with more from Okkie and Arthur in Amsterdam.

We’ll see you in a bit.

[Song playing]

JENNIFER: The most infamous Van Gogh theft of all of them happened nearly 20 years ago in circumstances that are eerily similar to the Singer Laren theft, the smash and grab job we told you about the beginning of the story.

Only this time, it was from the artists’ spiritual home, the Van Gogh museum. On December 7th, 2002, two paintings – Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen and View of the Sea at Scheveningen – were stolen from the Van Gogh museum in broad daylight.

Arthur worked this case too, but we’ll come back to him in a minute, because so far, we’ve only heard one side of the story, the side of the hero. But every heist story needs a thief. Every Sherlock needs a Moriarty.

OCTAVE: I started stealing when I was eight or something. Nobody teach me, taught me that nobody showed me the way, I just did it.

JENNIFER: This is Octave Durham, but everyone calls him Okkie. He’s an art thief. It was Okkie who stole those two Van Goghs back in 2002.

He’s tall with sculpted, icy cheekbones, constantly breaking into an easy grin.

A domineering, but charming presence.

OCTAVE: I’m not bragging, not for normal people, I don’t brag. But to other crooks, criminals, I brag when we talk our stories. And then I say, I must have some of criminal world record at the thing. Maybe eight, nine, ten thousand burglaries.

JENNIFER: If Arthur is the world’s greatest art detective, there’s probably an argument to say that Okkie is the world’s greatest burglar.

He reckons he’s nearly done 10,000 burglaries in his life, which hyperbole or not, is completely insane. So why does he do it? For the thrill you’d think, right?

OCTAVE: Everybody thinks I did things because of the thrill of it. I never did things because of a thrill or a kick. I only had one time I had a kick, a real kick. That was when I was locked up in the safety deposit, you know, in the safe.

And the lights went out, the door closed, and it goes in and boom, and like the whole system goes down and that adrenaline from my eyes pure, like a tear. Not a tear drop but a tear line, like, because I knew now we go, you know, we got to get go, we’re going to get rich. And we became rich.

[Song playing]

JENNIFER: Okkie did those safety deposit jobs in 2000, a couple of years before he took the Van Goghs.

But why the switch to stealing art? It’s a much more difficult game.

OCTAVE: Where I’m from, we are not interested in museums. You know what I mean? Where I’m from, we don’t give a shit about art. We don’t care. We like money. We like gold. We like cost. That’s our value. We don’t see value in paintings. Why I stole these two paintings and I said, yeah, the other painting had a little more thick painting on it.

And I said, yeah, it is more expensive.

JENNIFER: The two paintings he took from the museum are textbook early Van Goghs. And in terms of color, are kind of grungy, dismal even, a far cry from the vibrant Sunflowers and Starry Night. So it wasn’t art that propelled Okkie to do the theft, more than money, the challenge or the notoriety.

OCTAVE: So I’ve been in the Van Gogh at that time, maybe six or seven, eight times. All of a sudden, I said, hey, there is a weak spot. This, how I did the burglary.

JENNIFER: Okkie and his accomplice Hank knew they had to plan a way in and out to fool the cops.

[Song playing]

JENNIFER: So before breaking in, they put up a ladder on one side of the museum, went up on the roof and put a rope to abseil down the other side for their escape. But this was all a ruse.

Okkie knew the police would see the ladder and assume they were stuck on the roof and would have to come back down. The rope on the other side was hidden from the cops.

It was their real route to freedom.

OCTAVE: I had to crack the window and I didn’t know how big the hole would be.

JENNIFER: No high-tech laser or glass cutters here – Okkie got into the Van Gogh museum with a sledgehammer.

[Glass breaking]

OCTAVE: In my head I knew if it was a small hole, I would take small paintings. It was big enough, I would take a bigger one.

I didn’t know nothing about art.

JENNIFER: Van Goghs in a bag, Okkie went back out the smashed window and abseiled down the other side.

OCTAVE: So if we would hit the windows, we know the cops will be standing next to the ladder. But they wouldn’t expect us to abseil, that we being abseiled from the back of the museum. They went nuts.

JENNIFER: The cops stood waiting by the ladder, completely fooled.

OCTAVE: At the time I had a scanner on, so I could hear what they said.

I was still at the roof with the rope inside my hands, a bag at my shoulder with these two paintings in. And the cops said we are here and I was laughing. I said, but I’m going.

JENNIFER: Things took a turn here. Okkie tripped and slipped down his abseil, nearly crushing the paintings in the fall. He also lost his cap, something he would soon come to regret.

Limping to the getaway car, Okkie through the two paintings to Hank hiding in the footwell and got behind the wheel. But rather than zoom off, he knew he had to hide in plain sight.

OCTAVE: So what did I do? I have a ski mask off. I did my window down and I was driving and I’d still my scanner on and they were panicking and they said, why, where does, where did they go?

And I was looking at the cops and they were looking at me, but they didn’t know. I wasn’t there. I was looking and I drove away.

[Car driving]

OCTAVE: What happened that day was like a big magic trick. It’s unbelievable what happened.

HARRY: With the painting secured, Okkie took them back to his house and laid low. Now he had to sell them.

OCTAVE: I didn’t have a buyer. I just did it. Then I connected with Cor Van Hout, the famous known Heineken kidnapper.

HARRY: The Heineken kidnappings are hugely infamous in the Netherlands. In 1983, the beer magnate and one of the country’s richest men was taken hostage and given back for a ransom of 35 million Dutch guilders. About $60 million dollars in today’s money.

It was the kidnappings mastermind, Cor Van Hout, who Okkie planned to sell the paintings to.

OCTAVE: He wanted it. He said I want it. The next day I had to call him at one o’clock and then it meant you had to call his, his sidekick. And he said something bad happened. And I checked at that time he got killed.

He got assassinated.

HARRY: Cor Van Hout got assassinated the day before he was going to buy the paintings from Okkie. And at that point, Okkie was a bit afraid. He really wanted to get rid of the paintings.

OCTAVE: I’m religious and I’m superstitious. And then I said, I don’t want anything to do with these two paintings anymore.

They are cursed. I said, forget this, forget it.

HARRY: But the paintings had to go somewhere. They couldn’t just stay in his house forever. Luckily, Okkie’s accomplice Hank knew another guy. An Italian mobster.

OCTAVE: He knew, uh, Raphael. Raphael was at the time an Italian guy who had a coffee shop in Amsterdam. The Italian press call him a mob boss and he’s a leader of Camorra in Naples.

HARRY: And that’s who it went to. The Van Gogh ended up in the hands of the mob.

OCTAVE: I can’t say about, uh, how much I got for it. I know in the, in the press made out, they said 350,000 euros, but they made a mistake. Don’t want to say anything about the money because of legal stuff in the Netherlands.

HARRY: The general price for stolen art is about 10% of its actual value.

And the two paintings together were at the time estimated at about $4.5 million. So Okkie and Hank would have got, quick maths, nearly half a million. So obviously Okkie was living the highlight for a while, but soon things became too hot in Amsterdam.

The police had found a couple of hairs on the cap Okkie lost when he fell down the abseil and they were onto him.

He had to go on the run. So he headed to Spain, staying first in Ibiza, then somewhat bizarrely in Barcelona with Dutch soccer star, Patrick Kluivert.

After a couple of years of looking over his shoulder, Okkie was eventually caught in Marbella, in the country’s south. Back in the Netherlands, he was sentenced to three years in jail, but he only actually served just over two, a surprisingly short time, right?

But that’s how it goes for the Dutch. But what of the paintings? Well, Raphael had sent them off to Naples. They were now in the hands of the Camorra. They would stay there for a while.

ANDRÉS: That’s insane.

NEIL: I know.

ANDRÉS: This whole story is insane. This is crazy.

HARRY: It’s so Hollywood, it’s just

NEIL: I mean three years, for selling a painting to a mobster.

ANDRÉS: Can we go back to stealing with a sledgehammer?

JENNIFER: and a ladder

ANDRÉS: A ladder, sledgehammer, rope?

HARRY: and rope. Yeah, that’s it.

ANDRÉS: Just some rope.

NEIL: So they put, they put the ladder on one side of the one side of the, the museum.

HARRY: Yeah.

NEIL: And then abseiled down the other because the cops were on the perimeter.

HARRY: Yeah, there’s a ladder, they’re gonna come from, come back down the ladder.

NEIL: It’s so fucking Benny Hill.

JENNIFER: Yeah. It’s so Benny Hill.

ANDRÉS: It’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

HARRY: Yeah. It worked.

JENNIFER: I just think you’d have more like smart surveillance, wouldn’t you? When you’re talking like 60 million bucks.

ANDRÉS: Yeah. 

NEIL: Just like a security guard, like asleep in a chair with the newspaper.

ANDRÉS: I mean, often when you go to museums, that’s what it is.

NEIL: I got kicked out of the Tate once.

ANDRÉS: What! Seriously?

NEIL: Yeah.

ANDRÉS: Did you touch up painting, seriously?

NEIL: It was just a reaction. I was like, oh, that’s kinda cool.

ANDRÉS: Do you know what you touched? Can you tell me what you touched?

NEIL: I think it was a Rothko.

HARRY: I think Okkie and Arthur both made a point about how museums are like woefully this, the security’s rubbish and that if anyone wanted to do it, you basically could.

It wouldn’t be very hard. You can go with a gun or something and you can just easily do it.

ANDRÉS: So is this what we’re telling our audience?

HARRY: Or anyone, anyone out there.

ANDRÉS: So, listen, the times are tough. Coronavirus is being hard on all of us. Just go to your local museum with a gun or a sledgehammer. Wear a beanie.

NEIL: Half a million dollars split.

JENNIFER: You’ve gotta be pretty audacious, right. To do this kind of stuff. Like just zero F’s given.

ANDRÉS: I mean, that’s the thing, like in the end, it’s crazy that more stuff isn’t stolen all the time.

HARRY: Yeah. And he also said as well, he was, I mean, when he did the Van Gogh, when he stole the Van Goghs, he was a millionaire at that point because of those safety deposit,

NEIL: Previous sales.

HARRY: Exactly. It clearly wasn’t money.

He says it’s not for thrill. He didn’t say why, he didn’t explain. I asked him a few times. He didn’t explain why he actually,

JENNIFER: Maybe he doesn’t even know what was driving him. It’s just part of the world.

ANDRÉS: It’s like Van Gogh cutting off his ear.


NEIL: An act of craziness.

[Song playing]

JENNIFER: If a pair of Van Gogh’s go missing in Amsterdam, you know there’s one person who’s going to be on the case.

Arthur Brand was on the hunt for those Van Goghs for years. And it was in this process that he first had contact with Okkie.

ARTHUR: You know Octave Durham, he is my natural opponent. He is one of the most famous art thieves in the world and I’m a bit of a famous art detective and we live in the same town.

So he’s my opponent.

JENNIFER: It really is a Sherlock – Moriarty setup.

ARTHUR: I was chasing these Van Goghs. He had sold it to the mob. I knew about it. Nobody knew. So, um, he was chasing them too, because he got out of jail, but they gave him a penalty of $400,000. So he thought if I get these pieces back, I might get it rid of this stupid penalty.

So he asked a journalist to put me on the wrong trail. He called the journalist and said, call Arthur and ask what he knows. So I told him, dealt with the mafia and Octave thought, oh my god, only I know. Gee, he gets close.

So then he told the journalist, tell him that he had sold it to somebody in Spain. And the journalist called me and I said, no, no, they’re still in Naples.

So I called the journalist and said, tell Octave they are still a Naples. You shouldn’t play tricks with me.

JENNIFER: For a while, Okkie and Arthur were in a cat and mouse hunt, both looking for the paintings, which would be a prize for Arthur and a huge debt relief for Okkie. In 2016, the paintings were found, not by either of them though.

[Archival sound – BBC]

JENNIFER: The Italian police in Naples found the paintings in a mafia raid and brought them back to their rightful home. The Van Gogh museum. They sit here to this day, their value increased to nearly a hundred million dollars because of the heist. So not all bad for Bregje and co. And after that, the years of trying to outwit each other, talking through middleman, Okkie and Arthur felt like they had the measure of one another.

It wasn’t a hateful feud anymore. More like competition.

ARTHUR: You know, we never had met. So, uh, and then I was eating somewhere in a restaurant right next to the Van Gogh museum. And I saw Octave. So I left the people I was eating with. I stormed out and I knocked him on the back. I said Octave, you know who I am? He said, of course I know who you are.

So, we started talking and I watched him, I thought, gee he’s like me. He talked with his hands like an Italian guy, like I do, he was talking like a foreigner like I can, you know, and we were, and I looked at him and I thought, he is a criminal, I’m not, but my God are we similar.

JENNIFER: The two guys are bizarrely similar. The way that they speak, even the thrill they both take in recounting their stories and their lives have become intertwined now, too.

ARTHUR: And when I had the Picasso on my wall for that night, nobody knew about it, but I wanted to share it with somebody. So, um, I called Octave and I said, Octave, you have no idea what’s on my wall tonight. Because he knew what it takes. You know, he had these Van Gogh’s on his wall, and he said, well, tell me, I said, a Picasso worth 70 million.

And he kept silence for like 10 seconds. And he said, is there any chance you’re leaving your home for a few minutes tonight and I said no way Octave, and I’m waiting for you here with a big piece of wood.

JENNIFER: But more than that, the two have actually become something like friends. Okkie says they even work together.

OCTAVE: Arthur Brand is smart.

I work with him and a lot of people don’t know, but he actually, he’s my, he turned out to be my companion, but he has his people. I have mine.

Us combined can do things that other people can’t. He has to do have everything legal. I don’t have to, I’m not responsible to nobody. If something happens, something happens.

That’s my risk. But together we can fix a lot of stuff, you know.

JENNIFER: In 2020, Arthur Brand and Okkie were reunited once again. The Van Gogh heist at the Singer Laren museum.

[Song playing]

HARRY: Van Gogh’s popularity and the notoriety of the heists that have come before means his work is really coveted by art thieves.

ARTHUR: Yes, Van Gogh is really a big target now. Octave has done it before, you know, he showed the criminal world, look, I stole two Van Goghs and I sold them to a mobster who really used it in a deal.

HARRY: Okkie clearly did show the criminal world something. Definitely the two thieves who did the Singer Laren theft anyway. Because this recent Van Gogh theft was so similar to Okkie’s hesit.

It’s hard not to see that it was planned for its theatricality, deliberately done to look the same.

ARTHUR: It’s ridiculous. I think it’s a copycat because this is a guy who steals this Van Gogh and tries to sell it to somebody, a kingpin in the underworld just like Octave did.

HARRY: Just like Okkie did.

So, could it have been Okkie? Surely, he wouldn’t do the same thing twice.

OCTAVE: I have no clue where the painting is. I was in a hospital. A copycat, I don’t know. It looks like it because they’re in the same series.

HARRY: The painting they took this year is in the same series as the ones Okkie took. They did the same method, the same brazen smash and grab.

They actually stole it on Van Gogh’s birthday, March 30th. It’s also bizarrely connected, strangely planned, absurdly performative. If you read it in a script, you’d say it was way too farfetched, especially what happened next.

[Song playing]

ARTHUR: So from day one, I started to hunt for it. I got my hands on a proof of life picture of it. And I published it.

HARRY: The thieves actually sent Arthur a proof of life photo of the Van Gogh that was stolen, proving it’s out there. Proving it hasn’t been destroyed. The first thing Arthur did was called Okkie to tell him to come and take a look at it. Because it’s a, let’s say interesting photo.

In the center, there’s the painting. You can see that it’s real. Another early Van Gogh with those sullen, somber strokes and markings on the back, which proved that it’s genuine. But on either side of the painting is something else. Okkie’s face, twice.

OCTAVE: He said, now we go to my house and I’m going to show you something.

And I’m sure you’re going to be in shock. Okay, we go to your house. Two cameras set up, obviously his laptop, and all of a sudden, this picture comes in the screen from the painting, the, the New York Times and my book.

HARRY: On the left of the proof of life photo is a copy of the New York Times printed just after the theft. It’s front page features an interview with both Arthur and Okkie talking about the heist and Okkie’s picture is staring out of it.

And on the right of the photo. Well, it’s Okkie again, a copy of his biography this time, master thief. The thieves had set up a photo blatantly trying to implicate Okkie in the crime, or at least pointing out the similarities with the 2002 case.

OCTAVE: One of my first reactions is I’m going to get into trouble.

My second is in my head. It’s like, hey, my book is going all over the world. There is a moment in this that I’m angry, but I don’t show it.

HARRY: So what the hell is going on here?

ARTHUR: Either somebody take it as a gesture to me, without these people knowing it, or these people might be in control and just want to, uh, to give me the finger, you know?

For me, it’s their signal like you said, we are copycats. Look guy. You’re right. We put in, we have read his book. We have put his book on the picture. So, uh, we haven’t admitted and good luck hunting us.

HARRY: The hunt is most certainly on. The game definitely afoot.

And Arthur is working day and night to get it done, because this would be his most important find to date.

ARTHUR: I wish I could tell you a thing that happened to me with this fan growth thing. A couple of days ago, a big mobster showed up and, uh, I cannot tell you it’s, it’s but anyway,

HARRY: You sure?

ARTHUR: I’m sure.

HARRY: Not even just a little bit?

ARTHUR: Well, I was, okay, a little bit. I’m asking around to two big mobs guys. If you heard anything, um, let me know about the Van Gogh.

And sometimes somebody shows up out of the blue with a body guard and the body guard says, tell your story. And though you’d tell your story about what’s going on and the guy doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t even blink in 20 minutes.

And then he leaves, and you think, oh my god, who was this? And then they leave and you, you walk to your home.

And you look over your shoulder, your think, oh my God, what was this?

HARRY: Are you optimistic?

ARTHUR: Yes. Um, you know, the police, a lot of people give it up after two years, but, um, I never give up and, you know, I never had a Van Gogh on my wall. It will be great to have this Van Gogh one night on my wall and then hand it back.

So, um, yeah, it might be one of the best cases because, you know, um, this time it’s personal.

ANDRÉS: And this time, it’s personal. When, when this started, I didn’t realize this was going to be a love story.


HARRY: It kind of is. The end of it. The most interesting thing is these new thieves, like what are they playing at?


What is, is this like, like fan fiction where they’re trying to say something to Okkie or just trying to implicate him.

NEIL: Playing head games.

JENNIFER: Yeah. It’s like a classic frame

ANDRÉS: Totally

NEIL: So it’s still, it’s unsolved.

HARRY: As of broadcast, yeah it is. The Singer Laren theft. Arthur is on the case, if you follow him on Twitter, he’s often updating his very cryptic tweets kind of saying, like if I were the person, I would be getting nervous, all these kind of things.

ANDRÉS: Really? He does that stuff?

NEIL: He’s Twitter taunting.

HARRY: Yeah. Yeah.

ANDRÉS: That’s so funny.

NEIL: And also you’ve struck up a little bit of a friendship with Okkie yourself.

ANDRÉS: Buddies with Okkie now.

HARRY: Yeah, me and Okkie, we kind of exchange messages here and there. He sends me a lot of kind of golden age, hip hop videos.

He’s a big Ice-T fan.

ANDRÉS: Respectable.

NEIL: The world ain’t nothing but bitches and paintings.


ANDRÉS: Oh my god.

NEIL: I cannot believe I just said that.

ANDRÉS: Okay. So here’s a question. Is it disappointing to you that it’s unsolved still?

HARRY: I mean, Arthur’s got to find it. If it ends any other way, it would be pretty devastating because especially with the 2002 case where he didn’t get it, and there was this cat and mouse thing that leaves it, you know, on tenterhooks now that if he gets it

ANDRÉS: and for you, Jen, when you went into the story and coming out of this story, did you also have this like Hollywood vision of art theft and all of this?

JENNIFER: God, no, I don’t think there’s any glamour to this. I think the whole sledgehammer and ladder thing is proved that, but, um, yeah, I keep expecting the Pink Panther music to come on and you know, it just feels a bit farcical.

ANDRÉS: It does, it’s odd. Now we need one more pun. I think we need one more Sherlock Holmes pun.

NEIL: What did, uh, what did Mike Tyson say too Vincent Van Gogh?

ANDRÉS: Oh, no,

NEIL: You’re going to eat that?

ANDRÉS: Oh, nooo.

NEIL: Just put some crickets under that.


ANDRÉS: We’ll see you next week.

[Song playing]

NEIL: This week’s saved pins are all about the art. We asked are guests for some of their favorite galleries, museums in Amsterdam to make your trip there a cultured one.

ANDRÉS: Number one is the Van Gogh museum. Where else to start in the home of Vincent then the Van Gogh museum? Found on the Museumsplein in the city center.

In their permanent exhibition, you’ll be able to see the Sunflowers, a bunch of the self-portraits, the bedroom, the almond blossom, the lot. Plus those two paintings that Okkie stole, The View of the Sea at Scheveningen and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen. They’ve been meticulously restored to their former glory after they were returned in 2016.

NEIL: Number two: Pakt.

NEIL: Located on Zeeburgerpad 53, this nonprofit exhibition for contemporary art also organizes large scale solo presentations through which the audience can gain unconventional insights into how artists think. It’s never predictable and it’s never boring.

ANDRÉS: So number three is the Voorlinden Museum.

30 minutes from Amsterdam in the coastal region of Wassenar, the Voorlinden Museum is a modern art oasis nestled among sand dunes and forest. Head there by train and enjoy a unique blend of art, nature and architecture, and over 60 epic international artists and sculptors in one super tranquil hit.

NEIL: Number four, the Singer Laren Museum.

Head back to the outskirts of Amsterdam to visit the Singer Laren museum, the place where Van Gogh’s Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring was stolen in March 2020. Beyond trying to work out just how they did it, the museum collection is really impressive on its own. And if Arthur has done his job right, you might get to see the Van Gogh back at home next time you visit.

ANDRÉS: And number five is Coffee Shop Catch 33. Let’s be honest. If you’re going to Amsterdam, you’re going to want to indulge in some of the cities more debaucheries delights. Okkie suggested we try out the Catch 33 coffee shop just near Westerpark. If you want to smoke a few joints in the company of locals, rather than red eye tourists, this is the place to go.

And who knows? You might even catch Okkie for a chat.

NEIL: That’s it for this week. Next week, our conspiracy September continues. Harriet Davies, and I had to London for a look at espionage in the capital. From the icon that is James Bond to a couple of real life, MI5 whistleblowers to find out how much fact is in the fiction.

We’ll see you then.

[Song playing]

This episode of Passport was written by Harry Stott and Jennifer Carr and edited by Harry Stott.

Big thanks to Arthur Brand, Okkie Durham, Evi Vingerling, Bregje Gerritse, Wouter Van Der Laan and Hugh Welchman for their time and stories about this wonderful city and this utterly mad story.

The music on this episode was written by Nick Turner, with extra tunes from TMG, United Empire Loyalists, Klaatu Verada Necktie, Wolf Dick, Lt. Fitzgibbons’ Men, Finn the Human, The Standard Model, MusicBox, The Beards, Auracle, Fancy Pants, The Home Invasion, Foxy Basey, Kevin Macleod, Edvard Greig, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie and Richard Wagner.

The show is mixed and mastered by Julian Kwasneski.  Eliza Engel is our production assistant.

Stacey Book, Dominique Ferrari and Avi Glijansky would smash windows, kick down doors and even saw through metal to get their hands on a Van Gogh. They also executive produce the show.

Which is hosted by me and a man who prefers chilling out with a shmoke and a pancake, Andrés Bartos.

We’ll see you in the next place.


Episode 38: Australia – Part 2: Asteroids and the Outback

For every Celestial Emu there’s a planet-killing space rock on an inevitable path towards earth. In our season 1 finale, Passport producers Jennifer Carr and Andrés Bartos head back Down Under to talk about asteroids, the scars they leave, and the stories they’ve created.

read more

Episode 32: India: Love on the Rails

This week, Passport is taking a journey on the Indian Railway. These train cars are a moving microcosm of India, and the inspiration behind some of the country’s greatest love stories – on the Bollywood screen and in real life.

read more

Episode 29: Passport Goes to the Polls

As the US goes to the polls, Passport goes there too. But not to America. Take a break from the anxiety and divisiveness of the US election with two stories that show the true, positive, power of democracy across the globe.

read more


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

© 2018, Frequency Machine Studios.
© 2018, Frequency Machine Studios.