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Drug-Related Thefts Growing Concern For Art Galleries

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Art has officially become the new sound investment over stocks and bonds, but we recently learned that art is now being used as leverage in a drug deal! It's all too much. One dealer (of the art variety) is claiming that dealers (of the drug variety) are running a black market for artwork in Auckland, New Zealand.

Masterworks Gallery had a giant glass robot sculpture stolen on Christmas Eve, which arguably isn't something we'd ever cry over, but the act was reminiscent of a string of drug-related thefts from 2008. Fear of this alarming trend continuing were confirmed when a marble sculpture of a crushed gin and tonic can, valued at $2,000, was lifted from Sanderson Gallery last week. Kind of strange that the thieves would take such distinctive pieces since they would be difficult to resell. We can only assume they were high, or total nerds.

"Artworks have been traded [to a drug dealer] to pay off debt, was our understanding," Masterworks Gallery director Eloise Kitson told The New Zealand Herald of the 2008 thefts.

Her husband Derrick Paull claimed that a local dealer "took a liking to art" and made his customers steal art as payment or collateral. Some believe that the uniqueness of the works stolen add to the suspicion that the thefts are not intended for reselling, but for a high-up drug dealer's private collection. Auckland police did not comment on whether the burglaries were related or if they were connected to drug dealers.

Kitson continued, "Because our works are one-offs, you can't legally do anything with them. So it's only for the underworld of sorts. You would never actually get the proper value of anything you stole." Bummer. Stealing art, regardless of where or from whom, only serves to deprive the community of great art. It might be hilarious to get stoned with your buddies and laugh at your new glass robot, but please, think of the children.

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