More than 1,000 works of art, police say, are collectively worth tens of millions of dollars – including three valuable paintings by Emily Carr – have been seized by police during an investigation into a local art dealer in Oak Bay, British Columbia.
On April 11, someone contacted the Saanich Police Department to report that they had given a local dealer four works of art for consignment and potential sale at an art gallery in Oak Bay, according to a statement Thursday.
The exhibits were three original paintings by Emily Carr and a watercolor by David Blackwood, two renowned Canadian artists.
The owner became suspicious when the gallery recently closed and attempts to contact the art dealer went unanswered.
“The dealer was taking artwork from people with the intention of entrusting or appraising the art, later ending contact, while selling the art without reimbursing the owners or artists,” said the const. Markus Anastasiades wrote in the statement.
The police soon discovered that several other victims had entrusted works of art to this dealer and that the dealer had also ceased all communication with these victims.
Over the next few days, police said they executed three search warrants at storage sites in Saanich, Oak Bay and Langford.
Over a thousand works of art found
As the search progressed, police said detectives seized more than 600 works of art from the first site.
The next revealed over 100 pieces, and at the final site over 300 pieces were found, totaling over 1,000 works of art with an estimated value of tens of millions of dollars.
The artwork is now stored in a secure location, police said.
The art dealer, whose identity police say cannot be revealed until charges are brought to court, was arrested on April 21 and later released on several conditions with a release date. future hearing.
Saanich police are recommending criminal charges against the art dealer, who could face multiple counts of fraud and false pretense.
Police said detectives were communicating with the owners of the artworks, with the aim of returning all artworks to their rightful owners.
Anyone with information or who has submitted artwork to the dealer is asked to contact Saanich Police by email at [email protected]