November 10, 2012

Eleven year old boy finds and returns stolen painting to artist in British Columbia

Mathew Claxton of the Langley Advance in British Columbia broke the story of an 11-year-old boy who recovered a stolen painting from a neighbor's garage sale.  Artist Reet Herder had 17 artworks stolen from an exhibit at an art gallery in Langley in August 2005.  Matt Hanna, bargain hunter and now probably our youngest art investigator, noticed a painting of sail boats in a cove titled "Harbouring Great Memories".  Hanna Googled it and discovered the painting had been reported as stolen.  I wondered if the boy had used any of the conventional stolen art databases so I too Googled the name of the painting and discovered a website named "Stolen Fine Art", a service of so I  emailed one of the website masters, Cam Anderson, who responded to my questions.  This is an excerpt:
The Story of Stolen Fine Art really starts with Reet Herder.  Reet was the first to let us know there was an issue. Reet wrote that she and others had suffered such a devastating loss. I shocked to hear just how bad it was. We always like to respond to artist request for features, or listen to their business issues, and look for ways we can assist. This practice has been wonderful for both the artists and for our development as a service. 
Peter Newell and I put our heads together and figured we could host the images of stolen art as a collection. The MyArtClub site was already set up to host artist groups, so we simply leveraged that as a way to focus on this awful issue.  What we did ask artists for was a police reference number of some kind and police and artist contact information.  We have a form for artists to fill out (available on our website). 
Over the years Reet has been really a founding member of our website and involved in creating the form. Karma has a way doesn’t it? She helped build a service that we host and hope it is of some use to artists, and voila – her art is the one found through the Internet! 
I telephoned Reet to congratulate her on the recovery. Reet is amazed at not only the painting’s recovery but the media attention! “All I did was paint it” she says. This was one of her earlier works, but she was happy with how it had turned out. It was based on a visit to Schooner Cove. The story continues: as might be expected the painting itself was not in the best of conditions. However with luck Reet had prepared to create giclees from this art, and so offered this kind family a giclee in return which they accepted. Reet says “ the giclee’s colours look better”.  She presents it tomorrow to the father at his work.
About us: My wife Heather Anderson and a neighbour Terry Newell, both artists, thought their husbands should get together and do websites for artists.  I was studying Internet Marketing and had many years in Sales and Marketing, and Peter Newell had many years in computer software and project management.
We created the site to be a fair deal. We believe artists deserve assistance with business issues, and we wanted on our part to give back to our community using our skills. Also we found and still do find so many who offer help to artists seem to be out to gouge them. Maybe that is reality – you have to charge high prices to survive, but as we have jobs, we don’t. But look at this example: in the year 2000 a company offered my wife an artist website with 10 images for $1,000. At the time too, most artist websites were static, artists had to repay the site creators to change an artwork. We wanted to fix that.  So we kicked off MyArtClub.Com in year 2000 ( such an early time! Artists then had no digital cameras, and used scanners to create images for their sites).
We set out to launch a service for what is now $45 per year that gives amazing value for an artist website. We had to follow our artist’s wives directive – they should be able to change anything they wished, anytime, instantly. In other words, be in total control.  However, just having a website is not the answer. You need traffic.  We advise artists what they can do to build traffic, and have through newsletters and our blog tried to keep them informed about ideas and opportunities.
We felt a “portal” into the art world would help visitors see more art, and drive traffic to artists’ sites. And yet we provide each artist a standalone website. We thought the name MyArtClub fit as we are here to help both artist and art patrons connect. We also know that many artist belong to collectives, sometimes called clubs although many feel that is a little beneath the professional artist. We decided MyArtClub even if controversial had the right motivations, and buyers liked the name, so we launched it.
While we appear to be local to BC, in fact we have artists who have posted art from all over the world. Some load a free 3 images, so they can link from our portal back to their website. It is our form of links. Others sign up for an artist website, we have many across Canada and some in UK, Australia, Europe even Asia. Sadly we have had very little take up in the USA. We have really not tried hard, but I think the out of country aspect maybe an issue. Anyway, big opportunity when retired!
We are here to help artists with their Internet marketing.  We give free presentations on what artists need to know.  We host a large database which we advertise to increase artists chances of being found online. We have researched the customer base to help our artists understand the who, what, where, when and why of art buyers, and we give this report free to all who ask.  All this and so far we have not taken a single dollar of commissions.
Either we are crazy, or we really do just want to help artists progress with their business.  

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