Stollen Art – a Growing Business – Such a Huge Subject!!

Art theft is usually for the purpose of resale or for ransom (sometimes called artnapping). Stolen art is sometimes used by criminals as collateral to secure loans.[1] Only a small percentage of stolen art is recovered—estimates range from 5 to 10%. This means that little is known about the scope and characteristics of art theft.

In 2015 the Penticton Art Gallery had the theft of a painting June 27th stolen at the conclusion of their Annual Fund Raising Auction. The painting was by an Alberta artist – Brent Laycock – with a title “Okanagan Rhythm” which is an acrylic on a canvas wrapped board – 18 inches high, 24 inches wide, signed on the lower right and verso. The labels on the piece come from the artist’s gallery.

Paul Crawford, Director/Curator of the Gallery has offered a reward for anyone leading to the safe return of this painting.  Here is a copy taken from the page printed on July 7, 2015.


((It seems the photo of the stollen piece of art from the Penticton Art Gallery keeps removing itself from this page!! – (I am not a computer tech) – so please go to page July 7, 2015 and the full article is there.))

Please call Paul Crawford if you have seen this picture somewhere – someone’s basement wall? 250-493-2928. There is an reward waiting to be handed out as of February 2, 2018.

When artworks are stolen, it is big news. Over the years Edward Munch has received a great deal of publicity because his work “The Scream” has been stolen twice. Interpol got involved. It should be pointed out that “The Scream” was stolen in 1994; another version stolen in 2004. The original work was recovered thank fully.

Interpol has created a list of over 25,000 paintings and sculptures that have been stolen. It is very important to check the list from time to time.

In 2016, one of New York’s most prominent art dealers, Nancy Wiener, was charged with selling millions of dollars worth of stolen artefacts to collectors and museums around the world for years, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Australia. Her case is still before the courts and came after another New York dealer, Subhash Kapoor, was charged in India in 2011 with selling more than $100-million (U.S.) in stolen artwork to museums in the United States, Asia and across Europe. Mr. Kapoor is awaiting trial in India.

Canada hasn’t been immune from controversy. In 2015, then-prime minister Stephen Harper returned to India Parrot Lady, a 900-year-old sculpture that somehow ended up in Canada in 2011 after mysteriously vanishing from the Khajuraho temples in India.

We are aware of thefts from containers being shipped from Europe into Canada.

The following are theft stories from the Globe and Mail  –  


Recovery of three stolen Riopelle paintings just tip of iceberg

The Sûreté du Québec and Montreal police recovered three Jean-Paul Riopelle paintings on Monday from a Montreal home after receiving a tip.





The Sûreté du Québec and Montreal police recovered three Jean-Paul Riopelle paintings on Monday from a Montreal home after receiving a tip.




PUBLISHED JANUARY 26, 2017UPDATED APRIL 13, 2017      Globe and Mail

It’s a touch of high art that graces the crime pages at surprisingly frequent intervals: A Riopelle work is stolen and one more piece of the legacy of one of Canada’s greatest artists disappears into the underworld.

Then, occasionally, good news: The Sûreté du Québec and Montreal police recovered three paintings from a Montreal home after receiving a tip. They have not revealed the address or identity of who was holding the paintings. Investigators have made no arrests in the case and Sgt. Claude Denis of the SQ says an investigation is ongoing.

The crated paintings disappeared in 1999 from a warehouse just after clearing customs at a Montreal airport. They were in the process of being sold by an American gallery to a Montreal-based collector.

A search of public archives reveals no fewer than 19 cases of Riopelle artwork robbery in Canada between 1989 and 2015, and those are just cases made public. No Canadian artist was as famous as Jean-Paul Riopelle in the 1950s and ’60s and none, it seems, a bigger target for theft since.

The draw of Riopelle works to thieves is a simple case of high supply, high profile and high demand. He had a prolific career before his death in 2002, he was globally famous for decades and his works routinely draw seven-figure prices on the international market. His greatest paintings have sold for $1-million or more at least 14 times, but he also created hundreds of smaller, easy-to-carry works.

His, paintings, lithographs, sculptures and other works of art are scattered through homes, businesses and galleries around the world but especially in Quebec, where budgets for security aren’t always commensurate with the value of the works on display. Theft victims have ranged from major Montreal galleries to Westmount homes to a local museum in Baie-Saint-Paul, Que.

“He really was one of the biggest shooting stars among Canadian artists. For decades he was Canada’s most internationally known artist,” said Simon Blais, a Montreal art dealer and Riopelle expert who was first immersed in the artist’s work 38 years ago. “But his draw isn’t limited to the legitimate world. Just the name brings so much attention. In 2002 I opened a new gallery with a Riopelle show and within two weeks I had a break-in. Some look at art for its beauty, some for monetary value. And everybody knows Riopelle.”

The thefts over the years have ranged from professional to laughably inept to tragically dumb. In 2010, a thief tried to sell some lithographs stolen from a Montreal art shop on Kijiji. In 2011, two 1963 bronze statues worth $1-million were stolen by scrap-metal scavengers from Mr. Riopelle’s workshop. At 450 kilograms they were too heavy to move very far and ended up broken in a field. The sculpture stolen in Baie-Saint-Paul in the late 1990s ended up in pieces in a dumpster after the thief panicked and ran.

Art is currency for Quebec’s biker and Mafia gangs who have their own internal trade on the prestigious items. In the early 2000s when police were cracking down on organized crime in Quebec, they found a bronze Riopelle bust at a gang member’s home. A 2006 drug raid in Quebec City uncovered 2,500 paintings in a warehouse, some of them by Mr. Riopelle. The art was used to launder drug money.

Mr. Blais said art trades in the underworld for about 5 per cent to 10 per cent of its market value, but that’s still plenty of motivation. “If you owe the Mafia money and you don’t have it, a stolen painting provides a handy way to get out of it,” he said. “Paintings are light to handle, relatively easy to rob and for criminals they’re like money in the bank.”

Every Riopelle piece has a special significance. The works recovered Monday, which included two untitled pieces and another 49-by-54 centimetre paper-on-canvas piece named Eskimo Mark, were sought by art dealers because they represent Mr. Riopelle’s early use of an opaque watercolour known as “gouache.”

“They show him striking off in a new direction,” Mr. Blais said.


Officials return $15 million Picasso painting stolen in France




UPDATED MARCH 25, 2017    Globe and Mail

The U.S. government on Thursday formally returned a painting by Pablo Picasso valued at $15 million that had been stolen from a Paris museum more than a decade ago and seized by immigration officials late last year in New Jersey.

During a ceremony at the French Embassy, Sarah Saldana, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, officially repatriated the abstract artwork, titled “La Coiffeuse” or “The Hairdresser.” It was signed over to Frederic Dore, the Embassy of France’s deputy chief of mission.

“There’s a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when we return a piece of art like this,” Saldana said.

The painting was on its way from Belgium to the New York borough of Queens when it was identified and seized in Newark, New Jersey.

Kelly Currie, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the package aroused suspicion because it was heading for a climate-controlled storage facility — a peculiar destination for a package carrying French words suggesting it contained a $37 Christmas gift.

Currie said the speed with which government agencies handled the case was “unprecedented.”

“The United States is not an easy market for black-market smuggling of art and antiquities,” he said.

Details of who sent the package and how the painting was stolen weren’t provided and the investigation continues. Currie said no arrests have been made.

Picasso painted “La Coiffeuse” in 1911. The brownish Cubist painting, which is no bigger than a pizza box, sat on a tan easel wrapped in plastic and situated behind a burgundy rope for the duration of the event.

In November 2001, officials at the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris discovered the artwork was missing from storage when they went to retrieve it in preparation for an exhibition in India.

Officials gave no indication when the painting will be returned to the museum and said it had endured minor damages and would have to be restored.

“The message from ICE today is, ‘This is a part of our mission, a part of the work we do,”‘ Saldana said. “You saw some tremendous investigative work in detecting this piece to begin with and we will continue to do so.”

Quebec painting theft suspects lured to bar by eyewitness

A painting by Montreal artist Simone Blain. It was one of three paintings stolen at an exhibition in Quebec City Friday April 24, 2015. Two women are credited with recognizing the suspects as they stood at a street corner, then luring them to a bar until police arrested them.



PUBLISHED APRIL 27, 2015UPDATED MARCH 25, 2017      Globe and Mail

Two young women are credited with helping catch the suspects in a painting theft at a Quebec City exhibition, during a madcap night in the bohemian circles of the Lower Town district last week.

According to a co-organizer of the event, the women were at a street corner when they ran into two men who they believed had previously been seen running away with three paintings.

The women lured the suspects to a bar and kept them company until police showed up to take them into custody.

Later that night, police officers received a standing ovation when they returned to the exhibition space with the three paintings, co-organizer Phelipe Soldevila said in an interview.

Titled Canadian Bacon 3, the exhibition, which took place last Friday, featured works from about 40 artists from Quebec City and Montreal.

About 800 people were present at the opening, Mr. Soldevila said.

By 11 p.m., the girlfriend of one of the exhibition organizers was dining at a restaurant nearby with three other women. They recalled that two men with French accents tried to flirt with them.

Later, when they returned to the exhibition, which was still ongoing, the women saw the two Frenchmen again.

Mr. Soldevila said the stolen artworks were displayed in a corridor near an emergency exit. One of the women allegedly saw the suspects unhook three of the paintings and run out the door.

There were still about 300 people at the event and some tried without success to chase after the thieves.

The three missing artworks are worth about $1,300, Mr. Soldevila said.

It was past midnight when two of the women at the restaurant ran into the two Frenchmen at a street corner, about 500 metres from the exhibition space.

There were no signs of the paintings but the two women invited the Frenchmen to join them for drinks at bar La Cuisine, a five-minute walk away.

One of the women, who didn’t want her name published, said she didn’t feel she and her friend were in danger because the suspects didn’t appear to be professional thieves.

“It was no exploit,” she said when contacted by phone. “It wasn’t hard. They wanted to go to a bar. We didn’t have to push them.”

She said she and her friend had no precise plan but just kept chatting with the suspects in a friendly way, then discreetly called someone to alert police.

Constable Marie-Eve Painchaud said Quebec City police received a call around 1:45 a.m.

Two men in their 30s were arrested and charged with theft, she said.

One man was arraigned Saturday via video-link from a detention facility, while the other was released after getting a summons to appear at the courthouse at a later date.

Mr. Soldevila said the two women gave depositions to the police. He said the missing paintings were then found, slightly damaged, and returned, to applause from the remaining art lovers at the exhibition.

Mr. Soldevila said he intends to file a formal complaint with police Tuesday.

“You’re stealing from our plates. This is what we do for a living,” he said.

Several emerging artists in Quebec City have been the victims of theft recently, he said, perhaps because they cannot afford the same level of security as more established painters.

“It’s really unfortunate. These are no Robin Hoods, they’re robbing the poor.”






For Verbal Opinion-of-Value Appraisals.  

Fees vary.

These are for Verbal Opinion-of-Values – this process cannot be used for insurance legal purposes. Appointments are required for all – payment when registering – to guarantee you a spot.

These assessments give you an idea of its value. Should you go to the next stage for a full written appraisal for insurance, estate, legal purposes, etc., Peter and Marian do complete in-home full written (with photos and measurements) appraisals for insurance, donation, estate, divorce, downsizing, selling and other legal purposes.  Today insurance companies are wanting up-dated policies every five years – something to think about.  The market is changing so quickly, and there is always the threat of fire hanging over our heads.  Peter and Marian are both fully accredited Independent Appraisers – do not buy nor sell – just appraise – so there are no conflicts.

Peter and Marian do not assess jewellery, stamps, coins, guns, (swords are fine), wrist watches, (pocket watches are fine), militaria, items over 400 years old cannot be assessed at these shows.

They appraise just about everything else what with their huge reference library (which comes to the shows with them) – art, silver, furniture (has written 3 books and 1 ebook), glass, china, pottery, collectibles. With their books and the internet – they are able to find just about all the answers you are looking for. Not everything is on the internet.

Bring your items and show them to Peter and Marian.

Spend the day watching and learning what others have brought in.

Are you an organization/fun group looking for a Fund Raising Opportunity?  Call or email Peter for all the details on how this process works.

Come to one of these Events and watch.


HEIRLOOM DISCOVERY DAYS – Art and Antiques Roadshow

February 23rd and 24th –

Piccadilly Mall

1151 10th Avenue S.W., Salmon Arm

10:00 to 4:30 each day – in the Centre Mall – next to Jane’s Place (and great food!!)

We are delighted to be back in the mall again this year – and to help celebrate Heritage Week British Columbia and with the fund raising of the R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum – which is a wonderful little village on the outskirts of Salmon, a definite place to go and visit, take in the summer activities – and there are many.  But it is still winter so come and visit the Mall and all their heritage displays – there are a lot – and US!! the Blundells – We have been coming for many years now, thoroughly enjoying the happy ambiance, being part of this significant week of Heritage Thinking – and of course – our knowledge on art and antiques.  

What are we doing?  

This is a Roadshow for Art, Antiques, Collectibles, Vintage – We – Peter and Marian Blundell – will be giving verbal opinion-of-value assessment of each item you bring in to show us.  

Not for insurance purposes but for your knowledge and today’s values, answer any questions you might have, downsizing?, estates?, estate planning? – whatever.  

All that silver you have acquired over the years – let’s look at it – value? – weight? – will have our scale, our silver charts tell us when, where it was all made.     

Our table is normally set up next to Jane’s Place on one side – little stage on other side for on-going mall heritage activities.  

Come, bring your items, even a photo is good if the item is too big – too cumbersome – or a photo on your Tablet is good – (trying to see a photo on a little cell phone is very hard to see!!) We must be able to see it – without a glowing camera flash on the item.  Bring a drawer if it is related – then we can see the wood properly.  

This is very easy – no appointments required – just come, check in with Marian, tell her how many items you are bringing in – $18.00 per item (cash please – no credit cards, no interact), get a receipt, and wait your turn.  Or – register – and go shopping, see the displays, and come back for the assessment.  So Easy!!  

But – don’t forget – we do not assess Coins, Jewellery, Stamps, Guns (but swords are OK), Wrist Watches but Pocket Watches are good, Militaria.



SUMMERLAND MUSEUM & ARCHIVES – Art and Antiques Roadshow



This is the poster for our up-coming roadshow in Summerland.   It tells the whole story.  We hope you can join us.  A portion of each 15 minute assessment is donated to the Summerland Museum and Archives.

And don’t forget – we do not assess jewellery, stamps, coins, militaria, guns and wristwatches, but swords and pocket watches are good.

See you soon.

October 11th, 2018, 10:00 am  5:00 pm

“Antiques in the Attic”


9201 Corbould Street,    604-391-7469.

Art and Antiques Identification Day

Thursday, October 11th, 2018  – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Fee – $45.00 – a portion of all proceeds goes to the Chilliwack Arts Centre.

Call 604-391-7469 – reserve your space for fifteen minute sessions.  

Verbal Opinion-of-Value Appraisals

Are your trinkets trash or treasure?  

Come to the Cultural Centre, watch the appraisals and meet others who also have interesting items/questions on Grandma’s favourite teapot, vase, statue, sterling silver or maybe another ‘out of this world’ painting. “You know the story of the Tom Thompson work of art – found in Vernon – and was later sold at Heffel Fine Art Auction House for a rather good price last May,” shares appraiser Marian Blundell. Maybe this could be you!

Do you have one of these little hidden gems? You can ask Marian and Peter anything, but you only have 15 minutes for each appointment, with a maximum of three items per session. You can always book a second or third appointment though!

Downsizing? Yes, we are all doing that believe it or not. Now is a great time for those questions – How to sort? – How to organize? What is good? What is Salvation Army /Value Village/Recycling centres. Dust it off! Unwrap it from the forgotten tucked away box! That painting hanging behind the furnace.

Planning a garage sale soon? It may be October but not too late!  If you are not sure about an item– check with Marian and Peter at the appraisal day. They know the value!!!

Don’t forget furniture! Yes, they do that also. If it is too big to bring, then take a photo, measurements, and bring a drawer with you so they can check for age.

Appointments required – call 604-391-7469 – 15 minute appointments – Peter will look at up to three items – (15 minutes passes very quickly).  Verbal Opinion-of-value.  You will be given paper to take notes.  

Idea – Phone the Box Office – 604-391-7469 – make an appointment, and tell the office people what you will be bringing in to show them.  They will ask you to take a photo of it and email it to the Centre who will forward it to the Blundells.   Peter and Marian will try and do pre-show research.  The photos can be very helpful.  That creates more time to talk with you, look at your items,  and ‘usually‘ works very well.  If you bring in a painting – who is the artist?  Again, pre-show research is needed.   Send a photo with the signature to the Arts Centre.  No signature?  That’s fine.  Peter will examine it and discuss with you what it’s value might be.

If you have a piece of sterling silver, check to see what the marks are.  Take a close up photo – send it to the office who will forward it to Peter – again, pre-show research.  Your item will be weighed and analyzed.

Furniture, check to see if there are any signatures or labels – if it is too large to bring to the show, take a photo, send it to the Arts Centre.

Reminder – Peter does not appraise guns – swords are good, coins, stamps, jewellery, wrist watches but pocket watches are fine, Oriental rugs and old books (dust allergies), militaria, items over 400 years old (often reproductions).

All this will be discussed with the Arts Centre Box Office people when you call.

And of course, don’t just come with your items and leave!! – take time, sit back and enjoy the whole process, see what other people have.  You can stay as long as you wish.

Peter and Marian look forward to meeting you.  This will be the sixth time they have been to the Chilliwack Arts Centre and are really looking forward to returning again this year.