Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New Zealand Art/Book Heist

According to the New Zealand Herald, Auckland University was the scene of a well-organized robbery over the holiday break: when librarians returned to campus last Wednesday they discovered that someone had broken through an unalarmed window and forced their way into a special collections area where the materials were being displayed. The item known to have been taken are a Charles Goldie painting (only recently returned to NZ from Canada), seven poems by Colin McCahon (purchased in 2001 and removed from secure hangings) and an unbound Oxford Lectern Bible (acquired in 2004 and taken from a glass case).

"Ferner Galleries managing director Helene Phillips said it sounded as if the items had been stolen to order. 'If they are stolen to order, then they have probably disappeared into a collection and we probably won't see them again. If they have not, then their resale is almost impossible.' Ms Phillips said all three items had cultural significance and she hoped that would prevent collectors buying them. 'It would be a sad day for New Zealand when we start to see our cultural heritage being stolen to order and hidden for ever.'"

An investigation into the thefts is ongoing, and police are reportedly reviewing security tapes and following fingerprint evidence.

(h/t Jim Carmin on Ex-Libris)