More sculpture stolen: is there a serial art thief on the Island?


WATCH: Art is usually collected, but not in the way that may be happening on the island. Another piece of art was stolen over the weekend in Sidney, adding to the handful pieces that have been reported missing all over the island this summer. It has many wondering if there’s an art thief in our midst making off with an illicit collection. Kori Sidaway reports.

Yet another piece of island art has vanished.

“It’s a great community, and a great community to be a part of, I’m just really surprised this happened in Sidney,” said Phillip Sutton, who manages the gallery where the piece was stolen.

In broad daylight, a brazen thief made off with a sculpture worth around $30 to $40,000 on Friday from Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre.

The sculpture was made by British Columbian artist Lyle Sopel with locally sourced jade, black tiger eye, and quartz crystal.

The individual piece was initially part of the Winspear’s private collection, but after Mr. Winspear passed away he wanted everyone to be able to view his favorites.

“This piece was intended to be for the public to enjoy and it’s such a pity that it’s gone,” said Lyle Sopel, the artist behind the stolen sculpture.

This recent theft comes after a 300 pound Chinese Terracotta statue was taken from the yard of a Lantzville home in late June and dragon sculpture was stolen from a public park in Nanaimo.

The string of thefts now has police looking into the possibility of a serial art thief.

“Because of all the other art thefts that have happened on the rest of the island in the past few weeks, we will be reaching out to the other detachments and speaking to their investigators to see if there are any links,” said Corporal Chris Manseau with Sidney’s RCMP.

There’s nothing to suggest a connection between the thefts as of right now.

But, the fact that it’s been stolen has left it’s artist feeling more than empty.

“I think of all the pieces that I create are like children to me in a lot of ways, and when people have them I think of them in a family or something like that. So it’s like one of my children is missing,” said Sopel.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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