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Artwork of Iraq refugee stolen from Phoenix gallery

PHOENIX — An internationally-recognized artist and political refugee has become the victim of theft.

Police report that on Aug. 18, the perpetrator smashed through a window of a gallery in downtown Phoenix and stole pieces belonging to artist Bassim Al-Shaker. The value of the paintings is estimated at $70,000.

“[It’s] very hard for me,” said Al-Shaker. “I’m surprised, because the city is safe and there are so many very good people.”

Al-Shaker left Baghdad in fear of his life. He was systematically humiliated and beaten by military officials because of his artwork. His dream to paint whatever was in his heart led him ultimately to Phoenix, where there is a large Iraqi community.

The Phoenix Police Department’s Property Crimes Unit is requesting anyone with information to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS with any information as to the whereabouts of this property or those who committed the crime.