30 Jun 2015

Police investigate Whanganui art theft

5:41 pm on 30 June 2015

Police are investigating the theft of art in Whanganui around the time of this month's floods.

Mud coats Whanganui's Taupo Quay after the weekend's flooding.

Mud coats Whanganui's Taupo Quay after the weekend's flooding. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Five works by artist Rick Rudd were taken from the Sarjeant Gallery's smaller gallery above the information centre i-SITE on Taupo Quay.

The Sarjeant Gallery said they were alerted on Saturday 20 June that the art had been taken from locked cases at some point in the 24 hours before the flood.

Sarjeant Gallery senior curator Greg Anderson said, after five years of business and about 50,000 visitors through the i-SITE, the theft was unprecedented.

"It's a terrible thing for Rick and it's really distressing for the staff on top of all of the other things which have been going on in Whanganui this week.

"The gallery itself, the Sarjeant on the Quay, was flooded as well. We've had a pretty terrible time this last week."

He said Mr Rudd had long supported the gallery and his work formed a major part of the ceramics collection.

"They're very distinctive works and we have put out information to all of the auction houses, a number of galleries. We've advised Customs, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage - and, of course, it's going widely on the internet at the moment," he said.

"I'd be very surpassed if these items were able to be sold at all."

An image of Whanganui taken by a resident.

An image of Whanganui taken by a resident during the height of the flooding. Photo: Diana Fowler

Flooding damage to a business on Taupo Quay.

Workers clean up flooding damage to businesses on Taupo Quay. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

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