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Unique paintings mysteriously stolen on Central Coast in 2021 just as mysteriously reappear

Danielle Eubank

Works focused on Antarctica were created by artist documenting the world's oceans.

She’s a painter with a unique vision.

"I have a project called One Artist, Five Oceans where I have sailed, and painted every ocean on the planet," said Danielle Eubank.

She traveled the globe, painting the world’s oceans as her way of showing their beauty, as well as the ways they are being impacted by climate change.

But, two of those paintings became the centerpiece of a huge mystery on the Central Coast, turning into an 18-month-long saga which had a happy ending this week.

In May of 2021, two of her most important works were stolen in San Luis Obispo.

"The two paintings that were stolen are called Antarctica One, and Antarctica Two... they're 42" by 60", and painted with oil paints on linen canvas," said Eubank.

They are abstracts which show the ocean's shimmering waters.

They were part of an exhibition at the EDNA Contemporary Gallery in San Luis Obispo in May of 2021. The gallery took them to the home of a prospective buyer, but on the return trip they were stolen from the gallery's truck. It was briefly parked at a gas station and a restaurant. It's believed they were stolen from the restaurant parking lot.

What was unclear was whether the thefts targeted the paintings, or it was just chance. Eubank said the thieves left behind a computer laptop in the vehicle.

Eubank tried to get the word out everywhere. She figured it wasn’t the work of an art lover, it was someone hoping to sell them.

But, there was no sign of the paintings, until this week. Someone called the gallery, and said they found them sitting next to a pole at a San Luis Obispo flea market. They were still wrapped in the original plastic, but were dirty, as if they had been sitting an garage or attic.

Eubank admits she was shocked.

"I never expected to see them again. It was like seeing someone again that you thought had passed away," said Eubank. "It's great... it's really great."

She says the question of who took the paintings remains a mystery.

Eubank says the hardest part about losing them was not having them on display, and not being able to talk about them, and what they represent.

But, with their return, they will be celebrated.

On November 5th, they will go back on display again at San Luis Obispo's EDNA Contemporary Fire Art Gallery, with a homecoming celebration set to commemorate their return.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.