Art stolen from Oakland gallery, theft caught on camera

An artist in Oakland is asking for the public's help after someone smashed through a gallery window allowing a thief to make off with one of his artworks. It happened Tuesday evening, just days before the local artist was scheduled to show his works at an opening, and the whole heist was captured on surveillance video.

Artist Raymond L. Haywood, a high-school carpentry teacher by day, says a nearly nine-inch rock was hurled through the front window of the Mercury 20 Gallery on 25th Street just after 8 p.m. The rock narrowly missed his most prized artwork in the collection.

An hour later, a woman is seen in the video, walking into the gallery. Haywood, says it unclear if the woman is the same person responsible for smashing the front window, but that Oakland police are investigating. That woman is seen heading directly for a signed digital print of Haywood’s collection worth over $500, and grabbing it off the wall.

"It was just like gut punch. I just put these pieces up on Monday and I was excited to share them and now one’s gone," said Haywood.

The gallery is scheduled to share his works at an opening on Saturday. Haywood, says this week was supposed to be spent tying up loose ends. Instead he spent part of Wednesday cleaning up and spackling the gallery wall.

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"This is all work from 2020. Super personal. I almost stopped doing work when COVID hit, because I was just super depressed. I was a carpenter and then got laid off, didn’t know what I would do for money, and just went to my studio and started cranking out these big paintings," said Haywood.

Haywood, says he is both saddened by the loss of his art, and what he says, feels like a spike in crime in the area. The artist says he is particularly worried about the safety of his fellow art collective members.

"This street, these streets here, the culture changes in the evening, people have been accosted, things have been broken into," said Haywood. "The emotional damage is, how do we feel safe here. How do we show our work and think it won’t be taken."

Haywood says he is hoping insurance will help pay for the damage to the gallery. As for the stolen artwork, if you have any information on its whereabouts or recognize the person in the surveillance video, you’re urged to call Oakland police.