Gallery owners stunned by theft of work by Canadian artist

Owners of a downtown Calgary art gallery believe a recent noon hour robbery is the work of a smooth criminal.

They hope security video will help catch the culprit who swiped a $12,000.00 painting from the Trepanier Baer Gallery.

The oil painting by Kingston, Ontario artist Mike Bayne is of his own workspace and is titled TP, Headphones, Laptop, Brushes.

“It was a small little intimate painting measuring 4×6 in black and white an absolutely wonderful little thing,” says Yves Trepanier the co-owner of Trepanier Baer Gallery.

He says Bayne is a well collected artist in both Canada and the United States.

Trenpanier says a man walked into the gallery and several people in the gallery spoke to him, explained the exhibit to him and asked if he needed help but the man said no he was just wandering around.

“We’d never seen him before and he was well dressed and seemed like a reasonable person so he wandered around,” says Trepanier.

It’s believed the painting went missing sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Wednesday and everyone was stunned when they realized it was gone.

“It’s very bold. I mean this is broad daylight this is over the lunch hour. This is three people talking to the person the suspect and he somehow managed to fool us.  It was quite a thing  so just from that point of view we were shocked and disappointed that we weren’t able to do anything and didn’t see anything  happen,” says Trepanier.

Trenpanier says they called police immediately and handed over the surveillance video and also notified the Art Dealers Association of Canada which alerted the art community including sellers, appraisers and auction houses.

“We’re hoping it will be harder for this person to sell the painting if that’s the intent,” says Trepanier. “Selling artwork, stolen artwork is not an easy thing to do and what was the motive this person had I have no idea.”

Trepanier has been in business for 30 years and says nothing like this has ever happened to him.

He also says art thefts in Canada are quite rare with less than a dozen thefts from Canadian art galleries in a year.

The gallery does have insurance on the piece and has informed artist Mike Bayne of the theft.

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