Stolen Aspen art winds up in giveaway |

Stolen Aspen art winds up in giveaway

ASPEN ” A Woody Creek artist is unsure who did it, but someone stole $11,000 worth of her artwork off the walls of a downtown Aspen bank in broad daylight last week, and the paintings apparently have been given away for free.

Hillary Glass, a painter who has a studio in Woody Creek, had paintings displayed on the walls of U.S. Bank on Main Street in Aspen, along with works by other artists, for a month-long show in January.

But when she stopped by the bank last weekend and looked through the window, she noticed that her paintings were missing from the walls. The show was supposed to hang through January, and she planned to go in Feb. 4 to collect her art.

“I can’t believe the bank let someone other than me walk out with them,” she said Monday, referring to four paintings that have gone missing.

According to Aspen officer Rick Magnuson, police believe they know who took the paintings, but he declined to name the suspect while the investigation remains open and active.

The Aspen Times, which published a story about Glass’ show at U.S. Bank, received several e-mailed letters from another artist in the bank’s show, Robert Kerns, in January. Kerns apparently was upset that the story about Glass did not mention him or any other artist whose work was hanging on the bank’s walls.

Magnuson would neither confirm nor deny whether Kerns is under suspicion concerning the theft of the paintings, or whether he is wanted for questioning about the matter. Kerns’ paintings reportedly also were removed from the walls of the bank at the same time that Glass’ works were taken, which Magnuson said happened Jan. 30.

Magnuson reported that whoever took the paintings did so after talking with a bank employee, who was convinced the paintings were being removed at the request of Glass. But whoever it was took them to the Aspen Thrift Shop, a second-hand store at the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Galena Street.

Employees at The Thrift Shop, which Magnuson said lacked sufficient space to store or display the paintings inside, ended up putting Glass’ paintings outside bearing a sign advertising them as free art for the taking.

Two paintings were taken by an unidentified woman, and two were taken by an unidentified man, Magnuson said, adding that he hoped the recipients would bring back the paintings so they “can be returned to their rightful owner.”

A fifth painting left on the sidewalk for the taking, by an artist whom Magnuson did not name, apparently was left unclaimed and has been returned to the artist.

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