R10k reward offered for return of stolen paintings by renowned artists
A REWARD of R10 000 is being offered for information regarding artworks stolen during a hijacking in Pretoria last month.
Pieces from renowned artists WH Coetzer, Ignatius Marx, Helene Kapp, Margaret Gradwell and Gerhard Smit were taken, Lyttelton police spokesperson Captain Dave Miller said.
“The police are requesting any information that can assist them in recovering these paintings taken during a hijacking on April 15. The incident occurred in Pretoria East at around 11.30am.”
Miller said although the vehicle was later recovered, all the artwork had been taken.
“The paintings were en route to a gallery from an auction,” he said.
“A reward of R10 000 has been offered by the affected parties for any information that will lead to the successful recovery of the paintings as well as the arrest of the suspects involved.”
Miller said any person who has information can contact the investigating officer, Deputy Lieutenant-Colonel Johns, at 082 419 9737.
Private art curator Phillip Oosthuizen said the art theft racket in South Africa was not as marked by sophistication and connoisseurship as it was elsewhere in the world.
“Neither the thieves nor the people used by thieves for fake or stolen works seem to grasp accurately how the art world works.”
He said the art market in South Africa was so small that it was difficult to launder stolen works.
“So you end up with the slightly contradictory situation where the market is unregulated and hardly policed, and the archives aren’t comprehensive,” he said. “If (the thieves) don’t have an endgame, it’s going to be very difficult for them, because even if (stolen artworks) pop up in the auction world four or five years later, there’s the art theft register, there’s knowledge, there’s a question about provenance,” said Oosthuizen.