A Hawke's Bay artist has been dealt a double blow while hosting an retrospective exhibition as part of the Harcourts Hawke's Bay Arts Festival.

Fane Flaws, who has taken over the Community Arts Centre in Hastings, had his brand new laptop stolen along with $200 cash on Monday.

Flaws was working at the gallery when he said he was "conned by a well practised trio".

The three teenagers entered the gallery together and while two of the group distracted him, the third made off with his laptop and the cash.

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"They barefaced just took my stuff and they think that's perfectly all right to do that. It's unfortunate that you've got to be a wee bit suspicious of people you don't know."

He was disappointed the teenagers took advantage of him.

To make it worse Flaws had only just bought the Macbook Pro to replace another computer which had a failed hard drive last week, resulting in the loss of about five years' work.

Adding to this series of misfortunes, Flaws also lost a laptop last year when his Napier home was burgled.

"They don't understand and they just don't care how much drama they cause by taking something like a laptop, it's a real hassle."

Festival director Pitsch Leiser said it was a real shame that the incident happened given how well the festival had been received by the public.

"Fane had so much content on there with his original work and work from film school that he will never be able to get back. We are appealing to the person who took it to give it back."

Members of the public are being asked to contact the Hastings police on 06 873 0500 if they noticed any suspicious activity around the Hastings Community Arts Centre in Russell St between 2pm and 2.30pm last Monday.