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More than $400,000 worth of art was stolen from a locked truck in Boulder, Colorado on the night of 14 December 2022, according to authorities.

Employees of the company responsible for transporting the artwork reportedly stayed at a hotel along 5300 block of South Boulder Road, leaving the vehicle in a car park overnight. The following morning, they discovered that the truck’s padlock had been cut and five paintings had been forcibly removed.

The pieces are reportedly attributable to Taos Society of Artists, a New Mexico-based commercial cooperative dating from the 1920s that largely depicted romanticised scenes from the American West. One of the paintings mentioned was created by Elaine De Kooning, a writer and Figurative Expressionist painter whose illustrious career was often overshadowed by her famous husband, Willem; her ties to the Great Plains were well-documented.

The Boulder police department is currently soliciting the public for leads.

This case is not the first of its kind in the fine arts service sector. In 2016, $250,000 worth of paintings were stolen from a trailer in Los Angeles; in 2006, a Francisco Goya painting insured for over $1million en route to the Guggenheim Museum in New York was illegally intercepted in a hotel car park in Pennsylvania.

While agencies take a fairly uniform approach to institutional insurance, arts security is more varied, leading to gaps in technology, surveillance and professional oversight. Only time will tell how this latest theft in Boulder impacts the business at large.

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