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Priceless robbery at expo during blackout

Published:Wednesday | April 20, 2016 | 5:18 PMJason Cross

A number of booths were reportedly broken into and products stolen, including several paintings, during Sunday's Expo Jamaica 2016 held at the National Arena in St Andrew, while the country was grappling with an islandwide power outage.

Founder of Nanook Enterprises, Joan Webley, daughter of politician Joan Gordon Webley, has reported the theft of seven paintings.

"What happened was that we loaned seven original works (paintings) to be exhibited at the expo, and under advisory, we put up a sign that if persons were interested, they could make an offer," Webley told The Gleaner.

"On Saturday, we received an offer for three of the pieces, and we arranged with the persons that we would wait until Monday when the expo was closed in order to display all of them for the duration of the event, which would finish Sunday night."

She continued, "Unfortunately, my task on Monday was the unpleasant one of calling all the artists to inform each of them that all the pieces had been stolen."

She added that it would be difficult to attach a monetary value to the paintings because of how the business of art functions.

art appreciates

"The thing about it is, art appreciates in value and art also has no set price. It's just based on what the buyer is willing to pay. I don't know what one of these pieces would mean to somebody and what somebody would be willing to pay for it. I don't know who one of these young artists will become and what price it will then be worth," Webley said.

She is appealing to the perpetrators to return the art pieces and also took the opportunity to appeal to corporate Jamaica to consider organising an art auction that would be similar to the expo.

"My appeal would be to the people that have them, just return them to the police station or wherever. Also, to let corporate Jamaica know that we are here and very interested in connecting and doing more of this kind of showcasing. It's not about blame. It's just unfortunate that this happened," she said.

A representative from one of the expo organisers - the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association - told The Gleaner that a detailed report had not yet been given by security personnel on the incident.