Stolen Lindauer painting reportedly for sale on 'dark web'

One of New Zealand's most valuable paintings, 'Chief Ngati-Raure', has reportedly appeared for sale online after being stolen in April. 

'Chief Ngatai-Raure', along with 'Chieftainess Ngati-Raure', is one of a pair of paintings by Gottfried Lindauer stolen in a smash and grab raid at the Parnell International Art Centre eight months ago.

On Thursday Wired UK reported that the painting had been sighted on the 'Dark Web', a portion of the internet only accessible through specialised software and which is a haven for criminal activity online. 

The piece has been on the site for at least three weeks and is running as a Bitcoin auction due to the anonymity offered by Bitcoin transactions.

There have been two bids so far, with the leading bid equalling over NZ$400,000 worth of Bitcoin. There is also reportedly an 'instant purchase' price of close to NZ$1 million. 

The artwork was listed by user 'Diabolo', who wrote on the auction: "Here you can bid on an [sic] TOP SECRET original Painting from Bohemian painter Gottfried Lindauer that was stolen in New Zealand, Auckland 2017."

Painted in 1884, the stolen pieces were most recently valued at between NZ$350,000 and NZ$450,000 each, and were due for auction on April 4 before they were stolen.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard told NZME that police were still investigating the theft and are "aware of the [dark web] listing but as our investigation is ongoing, we are unable to discuss specific details." 

The authenticity of the painting has not yet been officially verified.