'A Serious Theft When We Have Other Things to Worry About'

Work by Anthony Van Dyck, 2 others, were taken
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2020 9:10 AM CDT
3 'Very High-Value' Paintings Stolen
Anthony Van Dyck, 'A Soldier on Horseback,' c. 1616.   (Thames Valley Police)

There is a thief or thieves out there who definitely aren't self-quarantining amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Three "very high value" paintings were stolen just before midnight Saturday from an art gallery at Oxford University's Christ Church college. Chief among them was A Soldier On Horseback by Anthony Van Dyck, described by the BBC as a "17th-century master" who was a "leading court painter" during the reign of King Charles I. Salvator Rosa's A Rocky Coast, With Soldiers Studying A Plan and Annibale Carracci's A Boy Drinking were also taken from the Christ Church Picture Gallery. The paintings date to about 1580 to the late 1640s.

The Art Newspaper flags tweets from Old Masters dealer Philip Mould, who wrote, "Gosh. This is a serious theft at a time when we have other things to worry about. An unusual group to steal - neither priceless nor small fry." He later added, "It’s impossible to sell these paintings anywhere on the global open market. The purpose of similar heists include: private theft to order; ransom objects (rarely effective); or collateral in underworld deals." Police are investigating and appealing for any witnesses or people with CCTV footage of the area to come forward. The Guardian reports it's been a tough weekend for the college, which has a large wine collection that has apparently also been pilfered from: cases of burgundy and Pouilly-Fuissé worth as much as $2,500 have vanished. (More art theft stories.)

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