Thief swiped painting from Halifax art gallery in 10-second heist

Police release image of suspect in theft of painting worth $12,500

Halifax Regional Police are investigating the theft of a painting from Zwicker’s Gallery on Doyle Street in September.

Gallery director Ian Muncaster called the theft a “crime of opportunity.”

“It’s a real pain, to be honest with you. It’s not the sort of thing you want to happen,” he said Monday.

Muncaster said security footage showed the suspected thief walking down Brunswick Street toward Spring Garden Road on Sept. 29.

Before he was about to cross the street, the suspect suddenly turned and walked toward the gallery. Muncaster said the man cupped his hands over his eyes and peered through the door, entered the gallery and walked out with the painting in his hands.

Later that day, Muncaster noticed the painting was missing and called the police.

Police describe the suspect as male, with dark hair and a receding hairline and wearing a blue track suit, black and white sneakers and what looks like a black mask.

Police released an image on Monday of the suspect captured from video footage.   Halifax Regional Police

Muncaster said the theft took about 10 seconds.

The painting is an eight by 10 inch oil painting titled A Farm in Brittany by French Canadian artist Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté. It is set in a gold gilded frame and dates from the late 19th or early 20th century.

The painting is worth an estimated $12,500, according to a police news release.

Muncaster said that while his gallery lost several paintings over the years to theft, it is not a common occurrence. The gallery shared information about the theft with the Art Dealers Association of Canada to prevent its sale.

Muncaster said that though he believes the suspect is not a professional art thief, it is “entirely possible” that the painting could end up at an auction house or a private collection.

If the painting were to make its way to a private collection, it could be decades before it appears again, Muncaster said.

“Hundreds and hundreds of paintings a year are stolen. The tracks can disappear fairly quickly,” he said.

Muncaster said he hopes the painting will return to the gallery.

“I don’t know how cold the trail is. But you never know. I just hope that somebody will be able to give us some information about it and we’ll be able to recover it.”

Police are asking anyone with information about the theft or with video from the area to contact them at 902-490-5020 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

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