Most stolen artwork returned to rightful owners after massive seizure: Saanich Police

Over 1,000 pieces of art were seized from an Oak Bay art dealer. (Saanich Police)

Saanich Police have returned over 900 pieces of stolen artwork to the rightful owners across Canada and the U.S.

In April, Saanich Police recovered over 1,000 pieces of art worth millions of dollars following search warrants conducted in Saanich, Oak Bay, and Langford.

The investigation began when a local art owner reached out to Saanich Police saying they had consigned four pieces of art with a local art gallery, then the gallery closed and the owner stopped all communications.

Saanich Police conducted an investigation and learned there were other victims.

Now, over 900 pieces have been returned to rightful owners in B.C., Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, as well as some across the border into Washington State.

There are still over 200 pieces unclaimed that Saanich Police is trying to find, and investigators are asking anyone who suspects the police have their art to reach out to

Charges in the case have yet to be sworn in court, but police continue to investigate. Criminal charges for multiple counts of fraud and false pretense are being prepared for submission to Crown Counsel in the coming weeks.

“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 in a news release.

“We attribute this success to the media coverage and attention this file received, as well as the art community across the country spreading the word to one another. We’re still hopeful we will be able to return all of the pieces we have.”

The artwork, which included original Emily Carr paintings, was believed to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

This is believed to be the highest value seizure of property by Saanich Police in the last 30 years.

READ MORE: Over $10 million worth of art seized from Oak Bay art dealer: police

Laura Brougham

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