Decades worth of work stolen from artist's home in Osoyoos | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Decades worth of work stolen from artist's home in Osoyoos

Osoyoos artist Gabriele Beyer misses her paintings that were stolen out of her home.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

An Osoyoos artist is in disbelief that her most precious pieces of work were robbed out of her home.

Now Gabriele Beyer has the daunting task of trying to find all of her creations.

On Nov. 12 she discovered that her home was missing 46 oil paintings, two photos, a sculpture, and more than 1,000 bow ties and neckties she has created.

The neckties and bow ties were how she earned most of her income. She was growing her collection of paintings for the past 20 years and planning to feature them in an exhibition next summer.

READ MORE: Penticton RCMP recover stolen artwork

She considered selling the paintings eventually and thought of them as her life savings.

“I’m still in shock, I’m still stunned. I almost want to run away from my house and my space because it’s so painful,” she said.

The silk neckties sell individually for $129, which factors in the amount of time, skill and material that Beyer spends on them.

“Each one is hand painted one at a time,” she said.

But whoever stole the items from her “didn’t have to pour their blood and tears and into it” and could end up selling them for just a few dollars each, Beyer worries.

Over 1,000 of Gabriele Beyer's silk ties and bow ties were stolen from her home in Osoyoos. Each one retails for $129.
Over 1,000 of Gabriele Beyer's silk ties and bow ties were stolen from her home in Osoyoos. Each one retails for $129.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

She’s curious about who would pay for her stolen art – even at a steep discount. Anybody from the Okanagan who displays the ties or paintings would run the risk of getting caught as her pieces are very easy to recognize.

“People who collect art like to entertain and have guests over.”

Whoever is in possession of her 46 paintings would have needed a moving truck to haul them all away, Beyer said, and she wonders if it would be worth the risk to try and cross an international border with such a big load.

“There must be some kind of market for this kind of art where they can get money.”

It would be safer to send the paintings overseas, Beyer figures, but her works are largely a reflection of North American wilderness and she doubts they would be as appealing to people in other continents. 

Beyond targeting her home, Beyer feels like her collection was prioritized by whoever stole it. She had about 75 paintings up in her home and said the 46 that were stolen were not taken at random, but rather her best pieces. Some of the paintings that were left behind had been unhinged from the wall and left on the floor, and she assumes the thief or thieves ran out of time or space before they could steal more.

“Paintings that were not my best work were left on the wall.”

Beyer said her Osoyoos property is a townhome on a safe street surrounded by many neighbours, but now she’s discouraged to create more art because she feels like there is nowhere to safely store it.

When starting new projects, the unique designs from her older ties were used for reference. And being surrounded by her art gave her motivation on days when she was feeling discouraged. Now she has very little inspiration to draw from. 

READ MORE: RCMP recover replica Mona Lisa painting stolen from Kelowna business

Fellow artists have encouraged Beyer to heal by applying her sadness and energy into the creation of more art.

“It’s the only way forward,” she said.

But it’s difficult to move forward from a theft of such personal items, and the experience is comparable to the worst chapters in Beyer’s life.

“I lost my husband to cancer 11 years ago and the feelings I have now are exactly the same,” she said. “I miss my paintings so much.”

Beyer said her talent was shaped in part by her experiences growing up under communist rule in East Germany. Before escaping over the Berlin Wall in 1988, she remembers her community as a grey and oppressed place.

“It was my way of dealing with the ugliness of the world that surrounded me was imagining beautiful places and colours. That’s what made me escape into art.”

At the time, she never spoke out against the way of life under communism because she was scared of getting expelled from high school.

“So my way of dealing with that was painting.”

The Gabriele Beyer painting is titled
The Gabriele Beyer painting is titled "Ode to Madame Pele" and she wants back.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

As an artist, she considers living in a satellite state of the Soviet Union to be an asset, having persevered and made it through to the other side.

“Those paintings are like a picture book of my life, like a journal.”

Beyer’s biggest fear is that her works of art will never see the light of day again. She hopes somebody will recognize her paintings and help with the RCMP investigation, and has created a Facebook account to share photos of everything stolen.

If anybody has any clues as to who's behind the art heist, the Osoyoos RCMP is asking them to contact police by calling 250-495-7236.

"This original artwork is of great sentimental value to the artist," said Sgt. Jason Bayda, spokesperson for the Osoyoos RCMP. "It is not unusual for stolen art to travel a great distance to be sold across country or internationally."

"Grange Road" is among the 46 paintings stolen from the Osoyoos home of artist Gabriele Breyer.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

— This article was updated at 4:25 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, to include comment from Osoyoos RCMP. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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