Expensive Colin John McCahon painting stolen during Sydney house move

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 4:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 10:10pm

A A$200,000 modernist painting has been stolen from a Sydney house while its owner was in the middle of moving out, according to police.

The painting, called Comet (F13), by the renowned New Zealand artist Colin John McCahon, was reported missing on Sunday, with police saying the thief had stolen it from inside the owner’s Balmain home.

Police said they were investigating the matter and would examine local CCTV cameras. He said the high-profile nature of the artwork would make it difficult to sell on the black market.

“That’s why it’s an unusual crime. Our procedures are essentially to canvass and speak to neighbours and work our way around that type of scenario.”

The stolen painting is a metre tall and 75cm wide and depicts a night sky in darkened colours.

McCahon, who died in 1987, is widely seen as New Zealand’s most influential modernist artist. His painting Canoe Tainui broke the record for New Zealand’s most expensive artwork after selling for NZ$1.35m in September.

Other McCahon pieces have sold for NZ$270,000 (Woman with Lamp), NZ$265,000 (Gate) and NZ$117,500 (Now is the Hour we Must Say Goodbye).

In 1997 McCahon’s Urewera Mural was stolen by Tuhoe activists before being returned.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald in September, the agent for Canoe Tainui’s new owners described its million-dollar price tag as “not expensive in terms of McCahon’s works”. He said he expected the painting could easily sell for up to NZ$2m if put back on to the market.

An investigation into Comet (F13)’s theft is continuing and New South Wales police are appealing for information from the public.