On Oct 25, 2014, between seven and nine in the evening, thieves broke into London’s FOLD Gallery and stole four wooden sculptures by artist Tim Ellis, worth up to £20,000.
“Initially we thought that it might have been a spontaneous theft. But it quickly became apparent to us that the thieves had selected the pieces very carefully, like a steal-to-order coup,”said Kim Savage, director of the young gallery, referring to schemes in which thieves are contracted to procure specific goods.
“We were surprised that they did not take any of the paintings in the show, which are small and portable. They took the four wooden sculptures and left everything else untouched and the gallery in good order,” he continued.
London-based artist Tim Ellis, featured in the emerging talent survey100 Painters of Tomorrow has been building a strong profile of late. His works have been placed in major collections such as that of Charles Saatchi.
“We immediately reported the theft to Scotland Yard and to all the auction houses, so the works can’t really be sold anymore,” an upset Savage told artnet News. “We are offering a reward for any information that would lead to the recovery of the sculptures.”
Savage couldn’t give an exact figure for the reward, as he is currently negotiating it with Scotland Yard.
Despite the art market boom, gallery thefts such as this remain a rare event. FOLD Gallery is located in the affluent central London area of Clerkenwell—also know as the Design District due to its high number of design showrooms and architecture studios—where, according to Savage “theft is usual, but the targets are mostly Apple computers and other office equipment.”
“I’ve always thought that people would realize that it is absolutely pointless to steal an artwork, given that, from the moment it is registered as stolen, there is no possibility of a secondary market sale,” Savage lamented.