Halifax police seek art thief who grabbed $12K painting from gallery

·2 min read
Halifax police say this Marc Aurele de Foy Suzor-Coté painting was stolen from a downtown art gallery on Sept. 28. The theft was reported the next day.  (Submitted by Halifax Regional Police - image credit)
Halifax police say this Marc Aurele de Foy Suzor-Coté painting was stolen from a downtown art gallery on Sept. 28. The theft was reported the next day. (Submitted by Halifax Regional Police - image credit)

Halifax Regional Police are after an art thief who stole a painting valued at $12,500 from a downtown gallery this fall.

Police said Monday that on Sept. 28, a man entered an art gallery on Doyle Street and stole the small painting, which was in a gold-gilded frame.

The 20-centimetre by 25-centimetre oil painting was created by Marc Aurele de Foy Suzor-Coté in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

Ian Muncaster, director of Zwickers Gallery, told CBC News the painting was stolen from his gallery. He said it was held on consignment for the owner. The theft was caught by a security camera at a nearby business.

"This guy walked down Brunswick Street and was obviously about to cross Doyle and continue on to Spring Garden when he changed his mind," Muncaster said Monday.

Submitted by Halifax Regional Police
Submitted by Halifax Regional Police

The man walked to the gallery and looked at the paintings hanging in the windows.

"He peered through the front door, cupped his hands around his eyes, walked in, walked out almost 10 seconds later carrying this painting. He turned it over, looked at the back, then walked off down the street quite openly."

Muncaster suspects it was a spontaneous crime, rather than a targeted art theft.

Police said the suspected art thief is a man with dark, receding hair, and he was wearing a blue hoodie and blue sweat pants, black and white sneakers, and a black mask. Police released a photo of the man Monday.

Police asked anyone with information about the incident to call them at 902-490-5020, or anonymously via Crime Stoppers online or at 1-800-222-8477.

Jon Tattrie/CBC
Jon Tattrie/CBC

Muncaster has hope the painting will return.

His gallery had an 18th-century Dutch painting stolen some time ago. Two years later, another gallery called to ask him about an 18th-century Dutch painting someone was trying to sell them.

Police arrested the would-be seller. Muncaster said it turned out the man was part of a gambling group that blew through high stakes over long sessions. Another member of the group owed the man a lot of money and gave him the $30,000 painting to cover some of his debt.

"That painting had disappeared, but it stayed local for several years before it surfaced again," he said.

He also had an Alex Coville drawing stolen in 1999, only for a priest to return the item on behalf of a repentant thief.

Muncaster said he has alerted other art galleries and auction houses to try and prevent an illegal sale of the stolen Marc Aurele de Foy Suzor-Coté painting.

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