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Stolen art returned to gallery

She thought it was a goner, but Mary Dolman's cats came back - a painting of them, at least.

She thought it was a goner, but Mary Dolman’s cats came back - a painting of them, at least.

Dolman was one of three artists who had paintings stolen from the stairwell at the Yukon Artists at Work gallery on Industrial Road last week. The three works had a combined value of nearly $1,600.

Two of the paintings, Dolman’s The Yellow-Eyed Cat of Farrera and Nicole Bauberger’s Snowfall to Snowfall, were returned to the gallery on Tuesday after a woman contacted the police. After learning about the theft in the news, she realized the paintings she’d recently purchased from a man downtown were stolen. She had paid between $20 and $30 for each piece, said Const. Christine Grant with the Whitehorse RCMP.

The name of the woman and the suspect are not being released. But the suspect does have a previous criminal record, said Grant. As of Friday morning, no arrest had been made.

“I’m very surprised,” said Dolman. She wasn’t expecting to see her painting again. She’s pleased about how seriously Yukon Artists at Work is taking the situation, she said.

The gallery has already begun to increase security, said Bob Atkinson, the chair of the co-operative’s board. Most paintings have been removed from the stairwell that leads up to the main gallery. Chimes have been installed above the door, and a mirror has been placed by the main desk so whoever’s watching it can better see what’s happening down the stairs. The gallery plans on adding cameras as well, he said.

The third, and largest, piece stolen, Heidi Hehn’s Miles Canyon South, has not been recovered. This painting is valued at nearly $1,000.

Art buyers need to be realistic when purchasing paintings, said Atkinson. Frames alone can cost over $100, so customers shouldn’t expect to be able to purchase good quality art for just $20 or $30, he said.

“You’re not going to find many paintings by a professional artist for much less than a $100, and that would be a really small one,” said Dolman.

“I just really hope that there will be consequences for this. Because otherwise, it just feels like artists are just sitting ducks,” she said. She had a painting stolen earlier this year from Arts Underground. These incidents are making her consider buying insurance for her art. “We work so hard on our art, and most of us don’t make very much money on it, and to get it stolen on top of that is kind of a slap in the face.”

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