THUNDER BAY — Nearly four decades after they were stolen from Confederation College, two valuable Norval Morrisseau paintings have turned up in Montreal.
College officials are anxious to hear the outcome of a Quebec provincial police investigation.
The paintings, Demi-God Figure One and Demi-God Figure Two, were taken in 1981 from the wall behind the front desk in the college's Shuniah Building.
Two pieces by First Nations artist Carl Ray were taken from the building around the same time.
"The college called city police, and an investigation was done. After that, from what I understand, nobody really heard anything about these paintings for over 35 years," says Mike Rozic, the school's Senior Manager of Public Safety and Risk Management.
That changed a few months ago, he said, when he heard from an art curator who told him someone had offered to sell her a pair of Morrisseau works.
"She recognized them as the ones that were stolen from the college, and that led to a further police investigation and the point we're at now. We're just waiting to hear back from the Quebec police about what the next steps are going to be," Rozic said.
"They've located the paintings and they know where they are," he said, adding that he has been told the pieces by the late Anishnaabe painter are currently worth between $60,000 and $90,000 apiece.
Confederation College currently has more than 200 Morrisseau prints in its possession.
The college, Rozic said, wants the missing paintings returned, because "It would be a big thing to have those back. We're hoping that the community can see them in person again here in Thunder Bay, where they belong."
Since the theft occurred so long ago, he doubts the perpetrators will ever be tracked down.
Rozic said security procedures in the school are much tighter now than they were in 1981, making it unlikely this kind of heist will ever happen again.