Mysterious theft of South Afri

Mysterious theft of South African artist’s Mandela painting in New York

A portrait of Nelson Mandela by South African artist Conor Mccreedy has disappeared from a New York storage space.

Mysterious theft of South Afri


A painting of Nelson Mandela by Johannesburg-born contemporary artist Conor Mccreedy was stolen from a New York storeroom last week.

The portrait worth R300,000 was taken from a Manhattan storage space along with 31 other works by Mccreedy with an estimated value of over R2 million. The New York-based artist placed them in storage for a couple of months while he was away. He discovered the painting  missing when he returned to retrieve the piece after it had been sold to a South African collector.

“It makes me very unsettled that this piece would go missing at this time, it’s completely bizarre,” commented a devastated Mccreedy, who hired a private investigator to “speed up” the search. The New York Police Department and Interpol are working together to find the stolen artwork.

“At first I thought it was one of my friends playing a joke on me, but they were just as shocked as I was,” he added.

Mandela Mccreedy portraitIt took Mccreedy four years to finish the painting of Mandela, who is currently in a critical but stable condition in hospital: “It is sad that I can never re-paint an original,” he said.

Mccreedy, who was rumoured to be dating Paris Hilton last year, arrived in New York last month to take part in Frieze Art Week, a contemporary art fair.

The thieves were interested specifically in Mccreedy’s works as they did not touch original photographs of John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Mick Jagger, or images of  Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which were stored in the same unit.

Mccreedy has since refunded the buyer as the painting was only insured on South African ground but has given the buyer first option should the piece be found.

Mccreedy, who is the youngest artist to have held a solo exhibition at the National Arts Club in New York, recently caused controversy with his Mandela Shack installation, which uses the original fencing from Robben Island Prison, where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. The piece is on display this summer in Southampton, New York.

Art and cultural property crime is a booming with estimated losses of billions of dollars a year in the United States, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.