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  • Vanishing art mystery leaves painter baffled

    Ollie Cowan

    A SEFTON artist whose work is exhibited across the globe and adorns the walls of royal palaces is desperately trying to find three pieces of art that have mysteriously vanished from a locked office.

    Popular Birkdale artist James Gray – known for his biblical themed paintings – has work hanging in the homes of Lord Ronnie Fearn, Lady Pilkington and even the Prince of Thailand!

    But it is three valuable oil paintings much closer to home that are making the headlines this week after they vanished without a trace from a resort church.

    James was devastated to hear that the trio of art works simply vanished from the office of All Saints Church in Rawlinson Road in what he says is a ‘complete mystery.’

    The paintings had been left at the church throughout most of 2016 in a locked room and were only to be removed when James visited the church to give talks on his life and career as an artist.

    Rather than keep removing and bringing them back, James opted to leave the paintings safely locked away in one of the church offices – but when he came to collect them last week, a shocked vicar discovered they had vanished!

    Police are now investigating the matter but as yet it remains unconfirmed how exactly the paintings disappeared. They were due to be auctioned off later this year. One of the paintings – ‘Come Forth’ – has been valued at £4,500.

    James told the Champion: “Three valuable religious oil paintings have been lost from All Saints Church where they were being stored in an office for safe keeping.

    “They are priceless to me and were awaiting the chance to be auctioned off.

    “Each one of the paintings took several months to complete and each one was hung in very expensive frames.

    “The main painting ‘Come Forth’ shows Jesus raising Lazarus and has a frame surrounding it which is a heavy ornate gilt antique frame – making it very difficult to carry.

    “Another of the paintings ‘Jesus blessing the wine’ was also hung in a new heavy gilt swept frame.

    “All of the paintings would have a certificate of authenticity attached to the rear.

    “I would appreciate hearing from any Champion reader who thinks they may have an idea of the whereabouts of these paintings!”

    If you have any information regarding the missing art please contact James on 07969 981262 or contact the police.

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