Police make arrests after Goldie art heist in Waikato, painting worth ‘well over $1m’

Three people have been arrested in relation to an art heist that included a Goldie painting estimated to be worth more than $1 million.

Waikato Police last week reported the antiques burglary in Hamilton East that included a painting titled Sleep ’tis a Gentle Thing, of Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Paoa chief Hori Pokai, by New Zealand artist Charles Frederick Goldie.

Police believe it occurred in the Hamilton East area between December 27, 2020, and January 3, 2021.

On Monday police revealed they had executed a search warrant at a Hamilton address on Saturday and recovered stolen property.

Three men – aged 41, 45 and 49 – were due to appear in Hamilton District Court today, jointly charged with burglary.

However the Goldie painting has not been recovered.

“Police seek the public’s help with any information that may lead to the recovery of this painting,” a police media release said.

“If you have any information, please contact Police on 105 and quote file 210103/2961.

“Alternatively, you can contact Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Goldie’s most expensive piece, A Noble Relic of a Noble Race, of Ngāti Manawa chief Wharekauri Tahuna, sold for $1,337,687 at an International Art Centre auction in Auckland in 2016.

Director Richard Thomson said he’d sold another version of the stolen painting in 2008 for a then-record of $454,000.

“So that is a million dollar plus artwork there in today’s market. I’ve sold dozens of Goldies, and that is a really good example of his work, has all the hallmarks.

“I am quite disturbed by [the burglary]. These are hugely significant, national treasures. Owners are guardians but the nation owns them, really.”

The stolen painting was likely done between 1933 to 1938, when Goldie was in his sixties.

While Goldie’s earlier works tended to fetch the highest prices, Thomson said the 2016 record was painted in 1941.

Despite the high valuation, Thomson said he thought it would be “worthless” in the hands of thieves.

“There is absolutely no market for it now in the wrong hands. It is a foolish thing to do and all they will get is bad karma.

“My advice is return as quick and safe as possible.”

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