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B.C. art fraud: Police seek owners of 4 paintings seized from accused dealer

Click to play video: 'Saanich police seize millions of dollars worth of fine art'
Saanich police seize millions of dollars worth of fine art
WATCH: (April 29, 2022) Police on Vancouver Island have seized tens of millions of dollars’ worth of art following an investigation into an art dealer. – Apr 29, 2022

Police in Saanich, B.C. have released photos of four art pieces seized from an accused fraudulent art dealer in the hopes of finding their legitimate owners.

The pieces are among more than 1,000 art works police took possession of amid an investigation into the Oak Bay dealer in April.

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

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Saanich police announced the seizure of art valued in the “tens of millions of dollars,” including three works by Emily Carr and one by David Blackwood on April 29. Saanich police

Police had started investigating the month prior, when a local art owner reported concerns about several pieces they had entrusted to the dealer on consignment for potential sale in an Oak Bay gallery.

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At the time, police said the owner had noticed the gallery closed down shortly afterward, and that the dealer had stopped answering phone calls.

Police located several other people with similar stories, and eventually searched a trio of storage sites in Oak Bay and Langford, where they found the trove of art.

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

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“What we understand was happening was that the dealer was taking art from people with the intention of consigning or appraising the art, but then later ceasing all contact, all the while selling the art without reimbursing the owners or the artists,” Saanich police Const. Markus Anastasiades told CKNW’s Mike Smyth Show in April.

In June, police said they had returned hundreds of the artworks, about three quarters of the haul, to their rightful owners in B.C., Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and Washington state.

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

Anyone who is missing artwork and believes it may be in police possession, or who recognizes the four paintings, is asked to contact investigators at art@saanichpolice.ca.

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