Thieves who stole two Lindauer paintings in Auckland will struggle to onsell the famous portraits, an art crime expert says.
A stolen vehicle was used in a ram-raid on the International Arts Centre in Parnell early on Saturday morning, and the 1884 pieces 'Chieftainess Ngatai-Raure' and 'Chief Ngatai-Raure' were snatched.
Police have said although Interpol has been notified, they could not speculate on the thieves' motives or plans.
Penelope Jackson, author of Art Thieves, Fakers and Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story, and founding member of New Zealand Art Crime Research Trust, said whoever stole the works had not thought it through.
No gallery or private collector was likely to buy them, Ms Jackson said.
"These are such significant and distinctive portraits ... these are amazing pieces," she said.
"People are drawn to them for that reason."
If the perpetrators stole the paintings for their own collections, someone would easily recognise Lindauer's distinctive style and inform authorities, she said.
The cultural, historical and familial value of the paintings reached beyond their combined $900,000 worth, she said.
Police said they have found the stolen car used in the ram-raid but were looking for another vehicle that was seen leaving the scene.