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Amos Ferguson paintings stolen in house robbery

  • A photo of the two paintings by Amos Ferguson that were stolen in a daytime robbery

Guardian Managing Editor

Published: Oct 12, 2013

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Two paintings by renowned Bahamian artist Amos Ferguson were stolen in a daytime robbery from the local residence of an elderly woman.

Gina Rodgers-Sealy said the paintings – one featuring a sailboat and the other a tree with red fruit – were stolen from her mother’s house located in the western area of New Providence.

“She used to sell Bahamian art in her store on Bay Street some 20 years ago and after she retired she brought most of what was left back to the house,” said Rodgers-Sealy.

“She is almost 80. She was home in the middle of the day when a black couple came to look at one of her apartments on her property. She took the lady to see the apartment and while she was showing the apartment, the man entered her home and took $700 cash, jewelry and these two paintings. When she went inside her home after they left, she immediately noticed that the paintings were gone.”

The incident took place two weeks ago, but Rodgers-Sealy is hoping that the paintings can still be found.

She said they may turn up at a function she understands is being held this weekend where Amos Ferguson paintings are either being auctioned or given away.

The average price of an Amos Ferguson painting is around $7,000-$8,000, but may be much higher depending on the size and subject of the painting.

Ferguson, a folk artist, was known for his brilliantly colored Bible scenes and his depictions of the social rituals and the flora and fauna of The Bahamas.

By trade, he was a house painter and painted in virtual obscurity until he was discovered by art connoisseur Ute Stebich. He is one of the country’s most famous artists.

Art critics described Ferguson as a phenomenal colorist and genius at simplifying complex shapes.

He died in 2009 at the age of 89.

Many local artists were shocked and saddened by the news. It is rare that art is stolen in a local robbery.

“I wasn’t surprised about the crime, but I was surprised by what the thieves took,” said John Cox, artist and chief curator at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.

“In a way it’s kind of interesting, not that someone’s property was stolen, but that someone realized the value of the pieces and thought to take them, like they would a flat screen TV. I am astounded that art work would have been stolen.”

“This is sad but also very interesting,” said former NAGB Director Erica James in a Facebook post. “Art theft hasn't been very common to this point in The Bahamas. But these are Amos Ferguson pieces, and I hate to say it, but either the thieves understand they are now more valuable than probably all the electronics in a house combined, or they took them on behalf of someone known to the family who understands their value, coveted them and/or found it very difficult and expensive to get Ferguson paintings from this period and of this quality on the market. If anyone is offered the paintings for sale, please contact the police and if possible the owners.”

Said artist Jeffrey Merris: “This is such sad news.”

Rodgers-Sealy has posted an image of the paintings on Facebook, asking friends to re-post on their pages in hopes that someone may know something.

She is also urging anyone with information about the paintings to contact Sgt. Neymour or Corp. Dorsett at the Airport Police Station at 377-8931/2.

“Let’s catch this thief,” said Rodgers-Sealy. “Please be on the look out.”

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