British Columbia

Art thieves make off with sculptures from Kelowna gallery

Kelowna RCMP are investigating after thieves stole 11 Canadian art pieces worth nearly $70,000 within three minutes early Saturday.

11 Canadian art pieces worth almost $70,000 stolen within three minutes

A security camera captured two suspects wanted in the theft of 11 art pieces worth almost $70,000 from Gallery 421 in Kelowna, B.C. (Gallery 421 Kelowna / submitted)

Kelowna RCMP are investigating a brazen early morning art heist at Gallery 421 in the city's South Pandosy district.

Gallery co-owner Ken Moen said two masked men took a crowbar to the front doors just before 2 a.m. Saturday and made off with almost $70,000 of Canadian fine art.

"It was a total of three minutes. They were in, they were out," he said.

"All things considered, we feel fairly lucky because they did zero vandalism. We have paintings on the walls they didn't touch. It was very targeted."

Moen said the criminals immediately ran for the most expensive, heaviest works on display at the back of the gallery: two bronze sculptures by noted Calgary area cowboy artist Vilem Zach, each weighing about 40 kilograms.

The thieves quickly loaded up a vehicle, re-entered and snatched three smaller bronze sculptures cast by Summerland's Michael Hermesh, three glass bowls blown by Jeff Holmwood, and two soapstone bear carvings from Vance Theoret.

"They knew what they were getting," Moen told CBC News. 

"I think someone has a shopping list and they sent them here … somebody probably said go grab the most expensive sculptures and get in and get out."

Moen says the bronze has little value smelted down or sold as scrap. Selling the works of art will be difficult at any Canadian galleries or auction houses.

The break and enter was caught on the gallery's security cameras.

The RCMP are seeking information on two male suspects.

"One suspect is described as wearing a red bandana over his face, a grey tuque, grey sweater, black track pants with white pin stripes and white shoes. The second male suspect is described as wearing a mask over his face, a black hoodie, grey sweatpants and with black Adidas shoes," said RCMP Cst. Solana Paré.

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