Art Gallery Employees Suspected of Stealing Paintings

Francis Blackwell
Francis Blackwell
Ann Taylor
Ann Taylor
Jeff Liu
Jeff Liu

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Paintings worth thousands of dollars are missing from a Honolulu art gallery. The couple being sought in connection with the thefts worked for the company.

Now, the owner of the store is asking for your help in the case.

People walk around and enjoy the display at Island Art Gallery at Aloha Tower Marketplace.

"All this are mostly local artist work," Jeff Liu, gallery owner, said.

But artwork valued at more than $50,000 is gone.

"I definitely feel like these pieces were either sold or stolen or I don't even know where they are," Liu said. "But I just hope people who got this artwork should understand that these are stolen art. It wasn't really sold through our gallery."

Eight pieces, including several original oil paintings, vanished, along with gallery employees Francis Blackwell and Ann Taylor.

"Of course, I feel being betrayal," Liu said. "I have almost total trust in them because this gallery is a small gallery, as you can see."

Liu says he discovered fake invoices, after a customer reported his purchase was never delivered.

"Right now, we just hope that this artwork can get back to us," he said. "We're willing to pay a reward, probably, I don't know, $500 a piece or something."

Police say Blackwell has prior theft convictions. Liu says he has since changed the way he handles potential hires, now conducting thorough background checks.

"I never really checked anybody. I personally believe a hand shake is better than words," he said. "I do check with new employees coming in to application with us, just make sure there are no major things involved."

If you have any information about the couple or the stolen artwork, call Honolulu police.