A celebrated Acadian painter has fallen victim to a con artist and is turning to the art community for help.
Romeo Savoie, of Grand Barachois, N.B., says a man posing as a University of Moncton professor stole one of his paintings, worth about $5,000.
The smooth-talking, well-dressed man went to Savoie’s studio last week and said he was interested in buying a painting.
The man almost immediately picked out a four-by-four-foot painting called Évantail (J), he said.
Savoie let the man leave with the painting on a promise he would send a cheque, but soon realized he’d been conned.
"A week later I hadn't heard from him so I went to the science building at the University of Moncton where he was supposed to work. They told me ‘We don't know this fellow, we don't know, we don't have a teacher by that name.’
'They told me ‘We don't know this fellow.’…That was it, that moment I knew that I had lost a painting.'—Artist Romeo Savoie
"That was it, that moment I knew that I had lost a painting. Then I knew that he was…he was a crook, someone who knows how to ....steal a painting," he said.
Savoie says this is the first "art heist" he’s seen in his 40-year career.
He’s planning to file a complaint with the RCMP.
Meanwhile, he's asking people in the art community to keep a look-out for the painting.
"There are some collectors in the area, so I'm sending them all the information. They are going to take that image and send that image to their clients."
He’s also sending information about the painting to museums, galleries and art associations.
Savoie says the man was aged between 25 and 35, was good-looking, clean cut and spoke impeccable French, he said.
The man was "dressed like a champion" in a black jacket, white shirt and tie and was driving a new, little black truck.