Independent Art Voice

Art Thieves Left Dangling With $1.4K

Washington Art thieves rappel through gallery skylight in pitch black, only to make off with paltry $1.4K

Two thieves smashed through a skylight and rappelled down into a Washington gallery, and stole two large pieces of art. The perfect art heist, with one minor setback – the two pieces of art were valued at a paltry $800 and $600!


But, strangely, it seems that these two artworks were expressly targeted, with the gallery owner Jo Gallaugher explaining that ‘The pieces they chose are the pieces that are most often admired by men in their 20s’ – despite the fact that ‘I have far more expensive pieces in the gallery’. They, furthermore, would have had to work hard to get to those works, with the art having been moved to the front of the gallery because of water leaking in the back.

The theft from Olympia’s Matter Gallery was made possible because Jo Gallaugher had turned off the main breaker on account of melting snow dripping through the ceiling onto the junction box. This would have given the thieves a blanket of darkness in which to remove the two enormous artworks: a piece that is 50 inches in diameter titled ‘Tribute to the concussed skier’ by Jud Turner of Eugene, valued at $800, and ‘Horizons II’ by Jerry Williamson of Olympia, which is 56 inches by 40 inches and valued at $600.

Gallaugher describes how the thieves must have considered stealing two other pieces – a 6-foot coat rack that artist Pat Tassoni has fashioned as the Space Needle, and a piece by Diane Kurzyna – because they had been moved from their usual places to a position next to the back door, before ultimately deciding on the Turner and Williamson pieces.

How the burglars got up onto the roof is unknown, but it is possible that workman may have accidentally left a ladder accessible. Nevertheless, this was no spur-of-the-moment prank, given that it would have taken considerable effort to break through the double-plexiglass skylight, as well requiring rappelling equipment to make their Tom Cruise-style entrance.

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