Museum theft: Darwin Police are investigating the theft of seven Aboriginal paintings from the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery.

Priceless’ artworks stolen from NT museum

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 Security staff at the museum alerted the police at 4:20am ACST after noticing thieves had smashed a window to get inside. 

Police say the paintings were stolen from the building’s main area. 

It has been confirmed six Papunya Tula style paintings from the Western Desert and a central Australian watercolour painting have been taken. 

The paintings are all highly regarded. 

Darwin Police Watch Commander Bob Harrison says an investigation is underway. 

“We’ve had the museum staff initially attend it [the scene] and they’ve told us that the value of the paintings is priceless,” he said. 

Watch Commander Harrison says people should be on the lookout for the stolen art. 

“We’d certainly be warning people if they were approached by anyone with paintings that are too good to be true they probably are,” he said. 

“We are waiting for a description which will be certainly circulating once we have it in hand, and we’ll be certainly looking in the normal areas to try and locate these paintings.” 

Paul Sweeney, manager of Papunya Tula Artists based in Alice Springs, says it will be hard to sell the paintings. 

“They’re priceless, they’re irreplaceable and if someone has taken six that would suggest that they were very small,” he said. 

“That would lead you to believe that they were probably the early boards that were done in the early 70s and, of course, they’re the very, very valuable ones.” 

Tim Klingender from the Aboriginal art department at Sothebys says the stolen art has huge importance. 

“They’re very aesthetically, very beautiful as well, and they are unique,” he said. 

“They were the first time that these central desert peoples ever recorded their ancient designs onto a portable service in a permanent manner. 

“In the past their designs had been painted on the ground or their bodies.” 

Security defended

Meanwhile, the museum’s director Anna Malgorzewicz has defended the building’s security. 

“Our security system has operated as it was designed to do, there certainly has been no flaw in that system,” she said. 

“Naturally we will review processes and procedures, but I can’t see much more room for improvement at this stage.”