Stolen oil paintings from Pittsfield recovered at flea market

PITTSFIELD – It was back in early January when someone broke into the Tartell Gallery located inside the Methuselah Bar and Lounge on North Street, and made off with a pair of oil paintings valued at around $2,000. Six and a half months later, the colorful canvas caper is closer to being closed.

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Even though the crime was captured on surveillance video the night of the break-in on January 8, the culprit has remained elusive, and the whereabouts of the missing artwork has remained a mystery.

The artist, Edward Pelkey, assumed he would never see them again.

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“It’s very rare for art to be returned when it’s stolen,” Pelkey stated.

The big break in the case came on Sunday morning, when a friend of Pelkey’s wife was walking past a flea market being held in a convenience store parking lot on Elm Street.

“She had attended my opening last year and they looked very familiar to her so she contacted my wife,” Pelkey said.

When the artist arrived at the flea market soon after that phone call, he grabbed the paintings and began putting them in his car. That’s when the proprietor encountered him.

“He asked me what I was doing, and I said, ‘These are my paintings. This is stolen property,’ Pelkey insisted. “Funny enough, he said, ‘I’ll let you have them for $100.’ I said, “‘That’s not how it works. You pay me for the paintings.'”

According to Pelkey, Pittsfield police officers showed up, deescalated the situation, and told him the “New Gunfighter in Town” and the “Cubist Bounty Hunter” were indeed his to take home.

Even though it seems clear the guy operating the flea market was in possession of stolen property, neither police nor the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office would confirm an arrest. As of Monday night, the case remains under investigation.