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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Theft of paintings worth 40,000
Rehearsal, one of the stolen paintings
Rehearsal is the more expensive of the paintings stolen
Two paintings by a leading Welsh artist which are together worth 40,000 have been stolen from a private art collection in the south of England.

Ed Povey's paintings, Minotaur and Hermaphrodite, and Rehearsal, were in storage in London and were about to be rehung in a Surrey mansion.

The artist, from Bangor in Gwynedd, said he believed the works may have been stolen to order.

Metropolitan Police are investigating and auction houses have been alerted.

Mr Povey said the two stolen paintings were being kept in a storage facility in North Acton, London while the mansion where they were destined to be hung was refurbished.

The art collector, who does not want to be identified, said this: "Is a sad loss of two special paintings.

"Both are quality art and I really hope that the thief appreciates just how good they are."

Minotaur and Hermaphrodite by Ed Povey
Minotaur and Hermaphrodite was a great favourite of the owner and was due to be hung in his personal study in the mansion
Ed Povey

"We are not certain when they were taken, but the police were alerted on Tuesday, after the discovery was made," said Mr Povey.

"A piece of 17th Century French furniture was also taken."

Minotaur and Hermaphrodite, painted in 1996, is valued at 16,500 and was purchased by the owner in 1999. The second painting to be taken, Rehearsal, dates from 2003 and was commissioned by its owner. It is valued at 24,000.

"It's a great shame. Minotaur and Hermaphrodite was a great favourite of the owner and was due to be hung in his personal study in the mansion," said Mr Povey, who divides his time between north Wales and America.

He said the two paintings were included in more than 40 of his works in the large private art collection in Surrey, and they appeared to have been specifically targeted.

"Unfortunately, if they went into a private collection - there's very little chance of finding them," he said.

Mr Povey, who rose to fame in the 1970s for the many multi-storey murals which he painted in Wales, England and the Middle East, said the Metropolitan Police were investigating.

He also said the art department of Interpol had opened a file on the case, and Sotheby's, Christie's and Bonhams were watching in the hope of stopping the art thieves if they attempted to auction the paintings.

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