Gallery painting stolen from garage

A painting was reported stolen from an underground parking garage beneath the Laguna Gallery of Contemporary Art on South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach police confirmed Wednesday.

The piece titled "Elevate," a 14-by-6-foot canvas from Christiana Lewis, the gallery's art director and event coordinator, was stored in the garage for the past five months until it was reported stolen from 611 South Coast Hwy, at noon Jan. 28, police said.

Lewis said the painting is valued at $60,000.

"The painting was leaning up against a concrete wall without a cover, not secured, and exposed to the public," Sgt. Louise Callus wrote in an email.

An employee of the art gallery was the last person to see the painting at about 5 p.m. Jan. 26, when she locked up and left the business, according to police. The gallery was closed the following day.

Lewis said she was home sick with the flu when the painting, wrapped in clear plastic, was taken. She suspects more than one person was responsible and that thieves rented a U-haul or an open flat-bed truck for the getaway.

"You can't [drive] a U-haul into the garage, so it would have needed to wait on the street," Lewis said. "One person couldn't carry it. It weighs 40 pounds, but the scale of it is daunting."

The garage has about 20 parking spaces and is also used by a nearby day spa and a time share complex, Lewis said.

"This had to be well thought out," Lewis said in a follow-up email. "It is sad because the painting is about love and kindness and after it's sale, part of the proceeds would have gone to education for needy children."

The parking structure does not have video surveillance.

—Bryce Alderton

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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