Caught on camera: Bronze statue of nude woman stolen from gallery
The artist who sculpted a bronze statuette swiped from a Vancouver art gallery hopes the surveillance video leads police to "Diana."
Trinita Waller has several pieces showcased for sale at the Kurbatoff Gallery on South Granville, and was shocked when the owner called her to notify her that the bronze maquette was removed from a chest-high plinth at the front end of the open-concept space.
“It’s been unsettling for everybody,” said Waller. “[It feels like] not only your personal property, but also your creative property has been stolen.”
The highly-polished bronze stands 22 cm tall and evokes the curves of a dancing woman in the nude. It took Waller weeks to sculpt, case and polish that piece, which has a list price of $1,500 and is the fifth in a limited series of 12 sculptures cast from the mould.
The surveillance video, captured from one of the gallery’s many surveillance cameras, shows a man in a hat and jacket shamble through the door moments after the clerk leads an older couple to complete a sale at the other end of the room. The suspect quickly spins the sculpture off the tall stand it’s screwed onto, pocketing it and looking directly at the camera before looping around that part of the gallery and walking out the door.
“We have been in business for 17 years and this is only the second time something like this has happened,” said Elana Kurbatoff, explaining that while all the paintings and sculptures are for sale the gallery is open to the public to enjoy the pieces featuring the work of more than two dozen artists.
“This was secured and screwed to the base and you needed to know how to unscrew it,” said Kurbatoff, who believes the man may have been to the gallery before. She has alerted the South Granville Business Association, where many other fine art galleries will learn of the theft.
Waller has turned the surveillance video over to Vancouver police, who say they are investigating. A VPD spokesperson told CTV News detectives from the Property Crime Section are also still investigating the June theft of a bronze egg that was part of a Salvador Dali sculpture in downtown Vancouver; they haven’t made any arrests in that case.
Police don’t believe anyone is targeting fine art in Vancouver, but Waller feels her work may have caught the attention of the thief. She fears the piece, the type of work on which her livelihood depends, could be pawned off for a fraction of its value or sold for scrap.
“It’s a big violation.”