1493174331618 - Thieves steal van with $30,000 worth of paintings inside

Thieves steal van with $30,000 worth of paintings inside

A prominent Auckland artist has been left devastated after $30,000 worth of paintings were stolen from his parked van.

Early on Thursday morning, Jimmy James Kouratoras’ van went missing from the driveway of his Onehunga home. Inside the van were three original artworks which were set to be sold.

Kouratoras is an internationally renowned artist having exhibited in New York, Los Angeles and Australia.

The day before his van went missing Kouratoras transported the paintings from his studio in West Auckland to his home, stopping by Ponsonby to finish a mural.

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“I believe someone must have seen it there and seen through the glass.

“I went home that night and in the morning my paintings were gone and my van,” he said.

Kouratoras believes he was targeted as there were three other cars and a work van in the driveway.

The three paintings were commissioned for clients and the profits were supposed to help fund the solo father-of-three’s trip to Crete with his children. 

“These works were going to fund a trip for myself and my children back to my father’s country of Crete to go and see where their homeland is,” he said.

The paintings are all large, vibrant and colourful pieces of work. 

Kouratoras said a lot of love had gone into the works which each took up to three months to complete.

“Art is a 24/7 job for me and to have it ripped out from me is soul destroying,” he said.

“When you know these people are still out there it creates a lot of doubt and suspicion.”

The van also contained personal belongings inside including a surfboard and skateboards.

The theft comes after thieves smashed into the International Art Centre in Parnell and took two valuable Gottfried Lindauer paintings.

The paintings were due to be auctioned and were worth between $350,000 and $450,000 each.

A stolen vehicle used in the ram raid was recovered by police but the paintings are still missing. 

Kouratoras said he had listed his paintings on the international registry of stolen paintings.

“They can take away my paintings, but they can’t take away what I’m going to do next. It hurts but it’s not going to stop me.”

The stolen van is a navy blue Mitsubishi Delica with roof racks.

Kouratoras said police had been made aware of the theft.

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