Art thieves: not just for France anymore

Art thieves: not just for France anymore

Stolen: more than a Radiohead album (Image: Bo Hughins) 

There are a ton of questions lingering after a heist early Monday morning at the Canadian Fine Arts gallery on Mount Pleasant netted robbers almost $400,000 worth of original paintings. While 11 paintings were stolen in total, the most notable were five works by Group of Seven artists, including a Frederick Varley, J. E. H. MacDonald’s Gull River (valued at $45,000), and A. Y. Jackson’s Les Eboulements (the priciest of the lot at $135,000). The particulars of the robbery remain murky (considering the lack of details, we’re just going to go ahead and assume it went down like this), but with all of the attention the heist has gotten, the works may be harder to unload than the robbers anticipated.

The Globe and Mail has more:

Paintings become more difficult to sell on the black market the more famous and valuable they become.

“The Group of Seven are some of the most famous artists in Canada, so it’s some of the most difficult art to sell,” said Josh Knelman, Toronto-based author of the forthcoming Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art.

“It’s hard to know whether we’re dealing with a group of thieves who understood it was valuable and took it, or a more sophisticated level of criminal.”

Whether or not the thief or thieves are particularly art-savvy remains to be seen, but some curators in the city are likely breathing a sigh of relief that they didn’t go after even higher-profile (and priced) paintings in the city, like this $117 million Rubens, donated to the AGO by Ken Thomson. Maybe next time.

Group of Seven paintings stolen from Toronto gallery [Globe and Mail]