A 30-year-old Draper man was charged with felony burglary and felony theft Tuesday in 3rd District Court in connection with the taking of $15,000 worth of artwork from a Salt Lake City gallery in May.

Robert Paul Tucker is accused of taking 18 giclee canvas reproductions from the Repartee Gallery at the downtown Deseret Books outlet on May 3. Tucker, who was an employee of the gallery for two months in late 2007, was spotted by a witness at a neighboring business near the time of the incident, according to court documents. Subsequent to his arrest late last month, Tucker has cooperated with police in recovering most of the missing work.

Repartee Gallery manager JoAnn Warner said 15 of the 18 missing pieces have been returned and police are still searching for the remainder of the works, all of which are limited edition, signed reproductions of original paintings, including work by the well-known Utah artist James Christensen. Warner, who supervised Tucker for about two weeks, said there was nothing unusual or suspicious about the man and was surprised to find out he might be responsible for the theft. She was also unaware that Tucker had a criminal record that included at least one burglary-related conviction.

Two burglaries of the Canyon Gallery in Fruit Heights, and an art theft in Saratoga Springs, remain under investigation. Police have previously stated that they believe these incidents are connected to the Repartee Gallery theft.

Tucker is currently incarcerated at Utah State Prison for parole violations.


E-mail: araymond@desnews.com