AXA Art Insurance Ltd, a division of France’s AXA Group based in London, has offered a reward of up to C$150,000 (U.S.$116,000) for information leading to the recovery of the five signed ivory sculptures stolen from the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), which were insured by the company.
The announcement indicated that the theft occurred Jan. 17, 2004, and advised that details concerning the reward “will be made available by the Toronto Police Service within the next few days.” It also noted that AXA Art, a leading international fine art insurer, “has retained Mark Dalrymple of Tyler & Co, London, England, the world’s most respected art specialist loss adjuster, as part of the AGO’s continuing efforts to recover these ivories.” Dalrymple stated that he is “committed to the eventual recovery of these sculptures, however long that takes.”
Commenting on the question of the AGO’s security record, David Scully, Underwriting Director of AXA Art Insurance Ltd, commented: “The AGO’s security record is excellent by international standards. No security system is infallible, or there would be no need for art insurance. The only sure way to protect art is to place it in vaults, but then no one would be able to enjoy it.”
Discussing the theft, AGO Director and CEO Matthew Teitelbaum stated: “While the Gallery has not experienced a theft in more than two decades, in my opinion, one theft in two decades is one theft too many. In addition to fully cooperating with the police investigation, we have upgraded security and initiated a comprehensive internal review of our security operations.”