A Calgary artist whose work was stolen feels her treasured pieces are now in purgatory and losing value.
Michelle Krüger had 11 pieces stolen in a 2018 heist at the now closed Gerry Thomas Gallery.
“Angst, happiness, sadness are all poured into the canvas, so when somebody takes that and walks away with it, it is such a violation,” Krüger said.
In the evening hours after she staged the gallery for her upcoming show, thieves broke in and took everything.
“They had spray-painted all the cameras, except they missed one. We were able to see them coming in with balaclavas and taking pieces of art, casually strolling them out,” Krüger said. “That was the start of the whole nightmare.”
Four years later and the ordeal is still lingering. The man charged and convicted of the theft returned most of the stolen pieces to police. But before they could be returned to the artists, the insurance company Desjardins stepped in and took possession to assess it for an insurance claim the gallery made after the theft.
“You feel like you’re victimized twice,” Krüger said.
“They’ve had the damaged artwork for a year and it needs to be repaired and come home and not sitting in a box somewhere disintegrating.”
Jessica Spina with Desjardins Insurance said they can’t disclose information on ongoing claims.
“We do remain in continuous communication with the client while the claim is being resolved,” Spina said in a statement.
“These are not inanimate objects or a piece of furniture that can be replaced,” Krüger said.
Some of the stolen artwork was in collaboration with her brother Jason Gogo, a famous artist who died unexpectedly shortly after the robbery.
Other pieces belong to her father, an accomplished artist who lost his vision following a stroke.
“My father had a massive stroke from grief and he basically went blind, those are the last pieces he was ever going to create and those were lost in the mix and it is just devastating,” Krüger said.
If the pieces are ever returned, she is planning an exhibition showcasing the wild history behind them and plans to give the proceeds to charity.