An Auckland antique dealer has been left devastated after a $20,000 painting was stolen just days before it was to be sold.
Art consultant and valuer John Perry had his Punakaiki, West Coast painting, by New Zealand artist Marcus King, taken as he got ready to close his store on Sunday.
The painting had been the crown jewel of Mr Perry's collection since he bought it in 2011, but on Sunday three young men pulled up in a truck and took it while he was distracted.
He had planned to gift wrap it before delivering it on Tuesday to Auckland surgeon Andrew Holden, who was buying it for his wife for Christmas.
The painting had recently been valued at $20,000, and the loss had seriously affected him, Mr Perry said.
"You know when you're devastated, you feel as though... I'm in my 70s now, and I feel like throwing in the sponge."
Mr Perry said the police have not had any success in their investigation, so along with Mr Holden, he was offering a reward to anyone who brings the painting back.
Mr Holden said he had planned on picking up the painting on Tuesday, so had to break the news to his wife when he found out the treasure had been stolen.
He said his wife told him buying the painting was a "gorgeous" thing he had tried to do.
He said he obviously earned brownie points but he was really just hoping to get the painting to give to her.
Mr Holden said he and his wife had planned on giving each other small presents this Christmas - a rule he had broken, but was now following.
Officer Shane Iversen at Helensville Station confirmed the theft was reported at 5:15pm on Sunday.
In a written statement, he said police were unable to comment because the investigation was ongoing.