Hundreds of pieces of art that were seized from a local art dealer have been successfully returned to their rightful owners.
In early April 2022, Saanich Police opened an investigation into an art gallery in Oak Bay that had recently closed its doors for business. Owners of artwork kept in the gallery, or entrusted with the art dealer at the gallery, were unsuccessful in communicating with the dealer. The investigation eventually resulted in the seizure of over one thousand pieces of art.
In an effort to identify and return the art that police had seized, a media release was put on April 28, 2022, including a dedicated email where persons could contact investigators to claim their art. The full release can be found here.
As of June 1, 2022, we have been able to return over 900 pieces of artwork to the rightful collectors, estates and artists themselves. The pieces have been delivered across the country, including BC, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, as well as some across the border into Washington.
We continue to have over 200 pieces that remain unclaimed, and we are working to explore all avenues possible to return the art. If you suspect we have your art, please contact us using the email [email protected]
While charges have yet to be sworn in court, the investigation remains ongoing and criminal charges for multiple counts of fraud and false pretense are being prepared for submission to Crown Counsel in the coming weeks.
“The return of the art has been a labour-intensive process but on overall success, as we have been able to return over 75% of the pieces we seized,” said Cst. Markus Anastasiades. “We attribute this success to the media coverage and attention this file received, as well as the art community across the country spreading the word to one another. We’re still hopeful we will be able to return all of the pieces we have.”
Cst. Markus Anastasiades
Public Information and Communications Officer