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Saanich Police return 100s of fine artworks after investigation into alleged fraudulent dealer

Saanich Police seize more than 1,000 pieces of art. Saanich Police

Police on Vancouver Island have returned hundreds of previously seized artworks after a theft investigation into an Oak Bay art dealer.

In April, an art owner contacted authorities after entrusting four rare art pieces to the care of the dealer, in the hope of earning consignment or outright sales. The art owner grew skeptical after the gallery closed. Attempts to contact the dealer went unanswered.

The pieces included three Emily Carr paintings, and one David Blackwood watercolour.

Saanich Police seize more than 1,000 pieces of art
Saanich Police seize more than 1,000 pieces of art. Saanich Police

The months-long investigation resulted in the seizure of more than 1,000 artworks, valued in the tens of millions of dollars.

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The Oak Bay art dealer was arrested and charged with fraud and false pretence.

“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 Const. Markus Anastasiades. “We’re still hopeful we will be able to return all of the pieces we have.”

Read more: B.C. cops seize fine art worth ‘tens of millions of dollars’ from alleged fraudster

To date, more than 900 pieces have been returned to their rightful owners across Canada, including British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, with some in Washington State.

About 200 pieces remain unclaimed. Anyone who is missing artwork is asked to email police at art@saanichpolice.ca.

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