Forensic examinations have begun as police continue to investigate a million-dollar art heist at a Parnell gallery early this morning.
Police have shared information about the theft at the International Art Centre with Interpol and have started examining the stolen vehicle used in the ram-raid attack to look for clues.
Investigators also began collecting evidence from the crime scene at the Parnell Rd gallery today, a police spokesperson said.
Thieves broke into the gallery about 4am and stole two paintings by Gottfried Lindauer.
The works of art, which Lindauer painted in 1884, are worth between $350,000 and $400,000 each. They are known as "Chieftainess Ngatai-Raure" and "Chief Ngatai-Raure".
When the Herald arrived at the scene this morning a 2m by 2m window was smashed with shards of the thick glass strewn across the pavement and a large beam supporting the window was bent and buckled while the plaster board on the wall behind was badly dented.
Police investigating the robbery said they wanted to hear from anybody who was in Parnell between 3.30am and 4am or anyone who may have information about where the paintings are.
They asked anyone with information to contact Auckland police on 09 302 6832, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
A New Zealand Customs spokeswoman said earlier today that border patrol had not been advised by police to take any added action to prevent the possibility of the stolen art from leaving the country.
The theft is one of the biggest in New Zealand history.
Art and Object managing director Hamish Coney said he recently went to the International Art Centre to view the Lindauer works and said the loss was a "minor tragedy".
"Each Lindauer is unique in its own right," Coney said.
He added the paintings will be "impossible to on-sell" and in a small country like New Zealand no art collector will dare touch stolen works.
"It can't be a random attack, you don't bust into an art gallery without knowing what you're looking for. If they have been stolen to order that's what really puts a shiver down my spine.
"It an unusual type of person to want these paintings to sit in their little room where only they can see and appreciate them."
He said the thefts will force the New Zealand Art industry to think "long and hard about security", but added art galleries already have extensive security to meet insurance standards.
It would not be unusual, he said, if one of the paintings was displayed in the front window for people to see.
He said it would be a "black day for the New Zealand art world" if the works were never seen by the public again.
Coney said he had a "beautiful" Lindauer going to auction on Thursday and was currently having discussions around adding extra security.
"What we will probably do overnight now is take it down from the wall and place it somewhere, lock it away, where only we know ... you can't ram raid our building," he said.
He said "theoretically" the stolen Lindauer works could be moved overseas, but it would be incredibly difficult.
The International Art Centre had only been operating at the site for about nine months.
The building had CCTV cameras that were well positioned to have captured the ram raid from the street. He was not sure if there were cameras inside the gallery.