Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh has promised a $40,000 (NLG100,000) reward to the person who can return film negatives from his latest project Baby Blue (Bloedlink) which went missing somewhere between Curacao in the Dutch Antilles and Amsterdam.

Instead of finding key scenes from the film, staff at Cineco laboratories in Amsterdam were surprised when they opened a box containing a towel, a torn pair of jeans and a plastic bag containing close to 1.5 kilos of cocaine.

"I've never made it a secret that I occasionally use cocaine," said Van Gogh, a direct descendant of the famous painter. "But I would never think of smuggling it. I love film-making too much to put all this at stake. And if I would do something like this, I would have gone for an entirely different approach. I wouldn't be surprised if we've been used as a cover for drugs trade."

Despite being insured against all types of bad luck, including loss of footage, both Van Gogh and Dutch production company Shooting Star Filmprodukties are not relishing the prospect of re-shooting the missing scenes.

"To re-shoot scenes made with 24 camera angles isn't going to be easy," said Van Gogh. "If they haven't been exposed to light, I would really like to have the negatives back and am prepared to pay 100,000 guilders."