Three contemporary art galleries robbed in San Antonio

A serial art thief appears to be targeting San Antonio galleries.

Three art galleries specializing in contemporary work were robbed this month and paintings worth around $78,000 were stolen.

The AnArte Gallery, which is north of Alamo Heights on Broadway, was hit on May 6 and May 16. The Felder Gallery, which is on North Main, was also hit twice, on May 6 and May 11. And the Prudencia Art Gallery, which is Felder’s next door, was robbed on Saturday.

In each case, the attacker broke windows or doors to gain entry and took away a few paintings. Videos of the thefts at AnArte and Felder show what appears to be the same big black truck with a toolbox in the bed. The attacker wears a hoodie and gloves and quickly enters and exits galleries.

Prudencia’s cameras were not installed when the theft occurred.

In a security video from Felder, the thief appears to be taking specific paintings rather than grabbing what’s closest.

“It’s like working directly with a person, fulfilling their interest in collecting art and decorating a home,” said gallery owner Robby Felder. “It’s exactly the same. It’s extremely targeted. And they taste quite good.

He said the paintings taken from the three galleries reflect a youthful sensibility. And they all fit together.

“I feel like you put these things together and it fits into a pretty cool personality and collection,” he said. “You wouldn’t necessarily want to steal these paintings and then steal a painting of a cow.”

The San Antonio Police Department is investigating the burglaries. The detective working the case was unavailable for comment on Monday.

At AnArte, the gallery was first vandalized but nothing was taken away. Ten days later, two Lionel Sosa paintings worth approximately $40,000 were seized.

In the first burglary in Felder, paintings by Miles Glynn and Rick Kroninger were stolen, and a third painting was damaged when the thief was unable to pull it through the hole in the window, said Felder, who has noted that for the most part the paintings have been carefully removed.

During the second break-in, the thief took a companion piece to Glynn’s painting, part of a series called “In Vogue”, as well as a third work by the artist. A painting by another artist whom Felder declined to identify was also taken.

The five paintings are worth around $32,700, Felder said. Window repairs cost $750 the first time and $600 the second.

At Prudencia, two paintings by Pam Slocum were stolen. Each is valued at $2,800. Installing plywood to secure the hole in the door costs $500 and repairing the glass will cost $700, said gallery owner Prudence Lucas.

Lucas opened the space four years ago. She is a gallery owner for the first time after careers as a librarian and bed and breakfast manager. She has never been robbed before.

“I want to see him caught,” Lucas said. “I want the paintings returned. This makes me very angry.

Slocum said her first response when she learned her job had been taken was concern for Lucas, who was very upset. Slocum also said she joked that it was a compliment that her paintings were taken.

The full impact didn’t hit her right away. She said she loved the two paintings – one depicted the view from her kitchen window and the other was a study of multicolored leaves in King William – and found herself moved by the loss. She is also puzzled as to why these paintings were taken.

“None of us could figure out what it was about,” said Slocum, whose work is displayed alongside paintings by her husband, Ric. “It’s not like they’re so expensive that you want to risk stealing them. It made no sense.

Insurance will cover the loss, she said.

“I’m not going to run out of money,” she said. “I have no more time and love.”

Felder has been in the gallery business for 13 years and at the Main location for two years. He said he had never had anything like this before.

He has removed the work from his gallery for the time being. His wife is expecting a child next week and they want to focus all their energy on that.

“I will not reopen until the place is secure,” he said.

Bill FitzGibbons, who has run art spaces in San Antonio for more than 20 years, said he was unaware of any gallery thefts at that time. He said that this kind of crime is extremely rare.

“What are they going to do with contemporary art? It’s hard enough to sell in a gallery,” he said.

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Mildred D. Field