The New Zealand Art Gallery has launched a global search for at least 100 missing paintings by 19th century artist Gottfried Lindauer.
The global hunt aims to locate as many works as possible by the Czech artist, who is best known for his striking portraits of Maori chiefs.
It comes ahead of a new exhibition to be launched by the gallery, which is subsequently hoping to obtain as many works as possible by the artist, who first arrived in New Zealand in 1874 and is thought to have painted as many as 400 works during his career.
The figure of 100 missing works is thought to be something of a conservative estimate, with curators of this new exhibition confident of putting together the largest ever collection of his works for display in October.
Given that a number of pieces have been found in the attics and basements of people all over the world, there is a feeling among experts that there may well be more items to be found within the houses of unsuspecting owners.
Nigel Borrell, curator of Maori art at Auckland art gallery told The Guardian: “We want people to look under their beds, in attics, and under the house.
“These are places we have found Lindauers before, and they are often in reasonable condition because they have not been exposed to sunlight or the general wear and tear of being displayed.”
The rewards of stumbling across a work by the artist, who alongside C F Goldie is one of the most prolific painters of New Zealand’s indigenous tribes, could carry a significant financial reward, with a prominent Lindauer carrying a potential price tag of up to NZ$280,000 (£150,000).
Many of the works already found are now part of the royal collection, with the most famous arguably being Ana Rupene and Child, of which there are believed to be 30 different copies.
Much of his work also captures what was a time of significant upheaval for the Maori tribes, although many of native chiefs saw the works as being highly desirable and saw them as being important symbols of respect.
Authenticating a Lindauer is a relatively simple process, with experts claiming it is possible to complete a successful evaluation using just a low-resolution photograph. It means that should anyone suspect find a piece resembling a Lindauer, they can have it checked out without having to leave their home.