THREE valuable artworks have been stolen from the Picture Gallery at Christ Church, Oxford.
Thames Valley Police reported that thieves broke into the gallery on Saturday morning, and took Salvator Rosa’s A Rocky Coast, with Soldiers Studying a Plan, from the late 1640s; Anthony Van Dyck’s A Soldier on Horseback, c.1616; and Annibale Carracci’s A Boy Drinking, c.1580.
The paintings have an estimated value of about £10 million. They are thought to be unsaleable, but gangs of thieves are known to seek a ransom payout from insurers.
There were no injuries during the burglary. The police were alerted by a member of staff at the gallery. The investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Jon Capps, said: “The paintings which have been stolen are very high-value pieces dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
“The artwork has not yet been recovered, but a thorough investigation is under way to find it and bring those responsible to justice. There will be an increased police presence in the area while officers and staff carry out enquiries.”
A statement from the college said: “We are extremely grateful for the quick and thorough response by the police. We will continue to provide whatever support we can as they continue their investigation and work to help us recover these important cultural artefacts. The Picture Gallery will remain closed until further notice.”
On the same day as the theft, The Times reported that the college could not fully account for between £1000- and £2000-worth of wine in its cellars. A staff member told the paper that bottles of burgundy and Pouilly-Fuissé had been disappearing from its extensive collection over several years. Internal records suggested that more bottles were being charged to the college by staff than expected — a discrepancy that was brought to the attention of the college about one month ago.