New York’s Team Gallery fell victim to a heist on the afternoon of January 10th and it wasn’t the high-tech, intricate kind we see in the movies. A man and woman stole a blue painting by Ann Pibal, worth $12,000, and made their getaway on foot. This makes the first robbery the gallery has had in its 23 years of operation.
Dan Barrett-Freire, husband of Jose Freire who owns the gallery, went to check on a couple acting suspiciously in the gallery after hearing odd shuffling sounds. When Barrett-Freire showed up, the thief made a break for it and it is believed the painting was hidden beneath a large Carhartt jacket he was wearing. When Barrett-Freire chased after the man, the thief’s accomplice – a woman with bleached hair who previously inquired about the gallery – followed. Barrett-Freire pursued the man for about half of a mile before having to stop his chase.
The artwork stolen is a small-scale, about 16 x 13 inches, piece titled CBLT (2018). The work was a part of a show at the Team Gallery called ‘Surf Type,’ which brought together a number of works by Pibal and runs through January 19th. Given the artwork’s aluminum substrate, it is a fairly delicate work and the gallery is most concerned that it will be or has been damaged during the theft. ‘No one should ever be running in an art gallery,’ Barrett-Freire remarked to the New York Daily News concerning the incident and how it unfolded. However, he recognizes the disadvantage the thieves are up against. ‘[T]here’s no resale market for this … They’re unique works. It would be impossible for somebody to place this work without identifying who the artist is,’ he continued. Most heart-breaking, though, is the loss that such an event creates for the artist. According to artnet News, after Freire told Pibal about the news, she first laughed due to the unreal nature of the occurrence but that laughter only lasted so long and soon she was left feeling ‘completely violated’ by the act. The gallerist continued: ‘[Ann is] really an artist who is very gentle and very thoughtful… the idea that someone just snatched the work off the wall and in so doing probably destroyed it is really disheartening.’ Freire does, though, expect to focus on the art Pibal makes to focus the dialogue surrounding the artist on a more positive subject.
Though this is the first art theft at the gallery, in light of the recent event, Freire made note that in the gallery has only been on the ground floor in their SoHo gallery for about 13 years and in that time a number of laptops have been taken from Team Gallery. Unfortunately, the gallery does not have security cameras – though that is undoubtedly soon to change – Freire is working with NYC police to track down the couple. The police have asked that neighboring businesses offer up any security footage that may be of assistance.