Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Update on the Theft from the Museum of Anthropology

Yesterday, as a member of the Museum of Anthropology I received an update on the situation regarding the theft of the Bill Reid art objects from there this past weekend. It did indeed include the box I featured in my post yesterday along with 14 other objects, photos of which can be found here and the image below comes from that site. This is a wonderful example of his work which combined his talents as an artist with his skills as a jeweller, his earlier profession.

MOA ID: Nb1.702
Object Title: Bracelet
Artist Maker: Bill Reid
Materials: Gold
Description: Bracelet with grizzly bear design
Date made: 1958

Since the theft included three gold Inca necklaces, along with the twelve works of Bill Reid, I am sure that many people believe they were taken for the gold content. With that in mind the University of British Columbia has offered a reward of $50,000 for information which leads to the recovery of the stolen items.

While they are valued at $2 million dollars as art works they have a total gold content worth a mere $15,392 at current gold prices, which is a quite sobering thought.

“The theft of these art objects is a loss of cultural patrimony for the whole of Canada,” MOA Director Anthony Shelton said today. “We are working with the RCMP as they conduct their investigation, and are hopeful that these cultural treasures will be recovered safely.”

To this end, the University of British Columbia is posting a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the safe return of the stolen artworks in their original condition and the arrest of any suspects involved in the theft by June 30, 2008.

Referring to one of the stolen Bill Reid pieces, an extraordinary gold box with a sculptured, three-dimensional eagle on top, Shelton said: “This theft is the equivalent of a kidnapping aimed at one of the signature pieces of First Nation art that carries and communicates the creative genius of the whole of the Canadian people. The perpetrators must realize it is the Nation that will be their judge.”

Of course perhaps the thieves already had in mind a buyer who would quite happily hide them out of sight, keeping their beauty for himself alone. Let's hope they are not already melted down. Someone, somewhere, will know something. Hopefully it is not too late and we will see them returned to their display cases in the rotunda at the museum where Bill Reid's monumental carving of the Raven and the First Men resides.

I look forward to giving you a final update on this situation with the good news that they have been recovered. We all know that the Mountie (RCMP) always gets his man and may this not be an exception to that rule.


Cathy said...

I also hope they have not yet been melted down. What a horrible thing to have happen.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I never knew about Bill Reid did jewelry. I knew only about his carvings. The jewelry is truly exquisite. I feel personally robbed.

Carver said...

Terrible to think of artwork like that being melted down for the gold. I hope this will have a good outcome and the art will be restored to the museum.

Dr.John said...

Lets hope they don't melt them down. Art like that simply can't be replaced.

Janice Thomson said...

Hopefully the culprits will be found and with the jewelery intact - it does seem like a personal vendetta against the First Nations and in particular Reid himself. How sad that an artist's work can be so abused.

CherryPie said...

Hopefully they will be tracked down before it is too late...

Nunyaa said...

They are indeed very nice works of art JMB. Stealing them deprives others of the chance to admire such work.

jams o donnell said...

Here's hoping they are recovered quickly. The Bill Reid piece is amazing