Art dealer Phillip Gevik fears he may never again see three paintings stolen recently from his Yorkville gallery, two by members of the Group of Seven and a third by a renowned Montreal artist.
“It’s quite possible they will end up in a private collector’s home,” he said. “I may not see them again for 10 years, if ever.”
Gevik discovered the loss when he arrived at his art gallery around 6 a.m. last Sunday to find the front window smashed and the paintings gone. He said he “felt sick.”
In a statement released Friday, police identified the stolen artwork, worth a total of about $50,000, as:
- Group of Birches by Group of Seven artist Frank Johnston (oil on board, 12 inches by 9¾).
- Beach Litter by Group of Seven artist Arthur Lismer (oil on board, 12 by 15¾).
- Harbour Scene #2 by Sylvia Lefkovitz (oil on canvas, 24 by 32).
The thief or thieves nabbed the paintings after smashing the front window of Gallery Gevik on Hazelton Ave. around 5:30 a.m. Sunday.
Witnesses saw at least two people leaving the gallery, Gevik said.
He said he has notified the Art Dealers Association of Canada to ensure dealers remain on the lookout for the paintings.
Gevik is no stranger to art theft. The day after he opened an exhibition on the late Quebec artist Pierre Gauvreau’s work in September 2009, three paintings were stolen. They have not been recovered.
In June 2011, 11 paintings by Canadian artists, including five by members of the Group of Seven, were stolen from the Canadian Fine Arts store on Mount Pleasant Rd. Those works were valued at almost $400,000.
David Silcox, president of Sotheby’s Canada and author of The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson, agrees with Gevik’s assumption that the art has likely ended up in a private collection. He said there is virtually no interest in Group of Seven paintings in the international art market.
“The odds are (the paintings) are not going to surface for quite some time,” Silcox said. “Reselling would be difficult in Canada. They are so well known here.”
The Group of Seven was formed by seven Canadian painters whose work, which dates roughly from 1920 to 1933, was inspired by the country’s landscape.
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact police at 416-808-5306 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.