Hand-painted ties stolen in Osoyoos recovered on the Sunshine Coast

Hand-painted ties recovered

When artist Gabriele Beyer’s Osoyoos home was burglarized in November 2021, much of her livelihood was stolen: about 1,000 hand-painted neckties and bowties – she estimates $140,000 worth of merchandise – as well as dozens of her paintings.

More than two years later, some of those works are showing up on the Sunshine Coast.

“I was devastated because they got 20 years worth of my work,” said Beyer. “They got all my design samples and all my inventory.”

For weeks following the theft, Beyer worked on getting the story out – on social media, in the news and on telephone poles as she made up posters with the missing paintings. “Nobody could make any sense of it.

“And then I had to say, ‘Okay, that’s all I can do and I have to start the grieving process.’”

It was more than two years later when Beyer got an email from a Gibsons thrift shop: 127 of her bow ties and 27 of her neckties had been donated to the Sunshine Coast Community Services Thrift Store. Noting the label on each tie, a staff member had gone online to see how to price them, saw that they’d been stolen and contacted the artist.

Beyer immediately came to the Coast to retrieve her ties and ended up staying nearly two weeks. “I found a wonderful community of people listening to my story and wanting to help me find my stolen art,” she said.

Beyer visited every thrift store on the Coast. Up in Egmont, the store manager told Beyer that she’d seen more than 15 of the ties in a ziplock bag about a year ago. At the Sechelt Salvation Army thrift store, the woman working at the front desk recognized one of Beyer’s more unusual paintings as one that had passed through that store.

It is thought that "The Narcissist" passed through the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Sechelt, which Beyer says she painted "after a painful experience with a narcissistic partner." Courtesy of Gabriele Beyer

So now, Beyer has put up posters from Egmont to Gibsons, hoping someone will recognize paintings or ties and possibly return them.

The 46 paintings stolen had not been for sale. “[They’re] like my journal of life of 20 years,” said Beyer. “I started to paint after my husband died and a lot of that work is very personal.”

As well, after the neckties were stolen, Beyer was essentially out of business – a fact made all the worse that the business, Murphyties, was her late husband, Michael Murphy’s, endeavour. “Basically 20 years of my designs and then even more of my late husband’s designs, we did that together,” she said. “All the designs were gone, basically the intellectual property of the company.”

The ties are also very time consuming to paint. “They were a labour of love,” said Beyer.

In the intervening years, Beyer says she’s made a name for herself painting murals in Alaska. “I have moved on, but it means so much to me that [the ties] are coming back to me.”

This isn’t the first time some of her stolen work has been recovered. Last year, six paintings and six neckties were recovered in Surrey and three months later three big paintings were found in a trailer in Osoyoos. Ten neckties were recovered after having been listed on eBay in Philadelphia. However, the find on the Sunshine Coast is the biggest yet.

One can see Beyer’s paintings at facebook.com/murphyties and anyone who thinks they may have seen any of the works is asked to get in touch with Beyer at [email protected].

Beyer also notes the generosity she has found on the Coast. “In between hanging posters, going to thrift stores, talking to galleries from Gibsons to Egmont, I hiked the many trails, two times meeting with the Pender Harbor Hiker group,” said Beyer. “I made so many new friends. My heart is really touched by this experience.”

More BC News