Lindauer paintings: Stolen $1 million paintings found after five year search

Two valuable Kiwi paintings have been recovered after they were stolen from an art gallery in Auckland five years ago.

The Gottfried Lindauer portraits were stolen from a gallery on Parnell Road on April 1, 2017. 

Together, the paintings, depicting Chieftainess Ngatai-Raure and Chief Ngatai-Raure, are believed to be worth about $1 million.

Chieftainess Ngatai-Raure.
Chieftainess Ngatai-Raure. Photo credit: NZ Police

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said the pieces were returned to the rightful owner on Tuesday.

"Police were contacted by an intermediary, who sought to return the paintings on behalf of others," he said in a statement.

Forensic investigations have been underway over the past week and the results of these are still pending. Police said further investigative work to identify those responsible for the burglary are ongoing.

Det Insp Beard said both paintings have suffered some minor damage, which is believed to have occurred when they were stolen.

At present, no one has been charged, however, there is no statutory limit for the offence of burglary.

Chief Ngatai-Raure.
Chief Ngatai-Raure. Photo credit: NZ Police

Det Insp Beard told media on Wednesday the police and gallery staff are really pleased the paintings are back with the rightful owners.

"For me, this is a good news story. You get involved in investigations and you want to resolve them, you want to solve them and the significance, particularly the cultural significance and the value of these paintings, we never gave up hope ."

Detective Inspector Scott Beard.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard. Photo credit: Newshub.

The original investigation into the burglary, where a vehicle was used to gain entry to the gallery, was wound down some years ago.

"Pending any forensic results from our enquiries, police will look at any new information that comes to hand and we will follow that up appropriately," Det Insp Beard said in a statment.

"Loyalties change over time and there may be people out there that know those responsible for the burglary.

"It is incredibly fortunate that police have been able to facilitate the return of these paintings more than five years after they were stolen."

"No matter how much time passes we remain open to the fact we can hold a person, or people, to account for the burglary in 2017."

Police welcome any new information to assist our enquiries.

People can contact police via our 105 phone service or online at using 'Update My Report'. Please reference file number 170401/6755.

Information can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.