The owner of the North Fork’s William Ris Gallery in Jamesport, Mary Cantone, remains devastated as she continues an ever-widening search for a life-size horse sculpture stolen from her gallery some time after 8 p.m. on Monday, August 30 and 9 a.m. on Tuesday, August 31. Made of charred driftwood, metal and plywood by artist Franco Cuttica, and valued at $7,500, the horse weighs at least 200 pounds by Cantone’s estimation. A $2,000 communal table, weighing about 200 pounds and owned by LUMBER+Salt, was also taken from the adjacent Sherwood House Vineyards tasting room courtyard.
Cantone is offering a reward to anyone with information leading to the recovery of the sculpture or the identity of those who stole it.
“It’s a shock, a huge disappointment to all of us, and there’s much more involved here than the value of that piece—that’s very, very important and not to be dismissed, but the fact that someone would do that is just heartbreaking,” Cantone says, clearly still smarting more than two weeks after losing the sculpture, which has been at the gallery since May of 2019, when she unveiled it at a special reception with the artist.
The gallery owner explains that the crooks were almost certainly not opportunistic teens taking advantage of a moment or playing a prank. “This was not easy to maneuver either, this was well planned out, this thievery…this took time and it was calculated,” Cantone says. The thieves did not use the front driveway of the gallery, but instead drove through a field to access the property in a clandestine manner, under the cover of darkness, and pilfered the hefty, cumbersome horse from within a glass-paned shed in back. They also grabbed the table, which was nearby.
Local police responded to the theft, and Cantone says “they were very interested,” but so far nothing has surfaced. They did, however, identify tracks in the field behind the gallery and discovered a hand truck the perpetrators must have used to move the sculpture and then abandoned in the field. “They had this very well organized and what’s very scary is they had scoped this out,” Cantone adds, pointing out that people walk the grounds all the time to admire the beauty there, and she never thought twice about it. Now, she’s left feeling suspicious, which demonstrates something else the thieves took—her trusting nature.
Cantone could not say enough good things about the Cutticas, a local family of Argentinian artists based out of Flanders who have been very patient and supportive as she attempts to find Franco’s sculpture. “They know that I’m working my hardest to get this located,” she says. “I just hope it hasn’t been destroyed, because where would they take this?” Surely a local person would report it if the horse was hanging around somewhere on the East End, the gallerist surmised, leading her to widen her search beyond Long Island and into other regions of New York as well as nearby states.
So far, nothing has been discovered, but Cantone and her many friends and allies in the North Fork community are not giving up. “They can’t be allowed to get away with this,” she says, asking anyone with information to contact her at [email protected], [email protected] or by calling 609-408-5203.