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Thousands of dollars worth of unique vintage Blythe dolls stolen from Oakland; owner offering a reward


OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — Thousands of dollars worth of unique dolls were stolen Thursday from a collector and artist in Oakland.

They are known as Blythe dolls and are often loosely associated with Big Eyes paintings from the 1960s.

If you are unfamiliar with these so called Blythe dolls, you are not alone, they are not sold in many stores. But take a good look at the photos and the video because 12 of them were stolen from a house in Oakland.

“They’re very unique, they’re about as tall as a Barbie doll, but they have a big head with unique eyes that really have a lot of emotion and character,” says Kirsten Seymour.

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The dolls belong to Seymour who is a collector. You can find photos and videos of the stolen dolls on Seymour’s Instagram page.

Blythe dolls were originally released in 1972 as a rival to Barbie, but inspired by Betty Boop, with influences from those Big Eyes paintings created by the late Bay Area artist Margaret Keane. Those who had swept the nation in previous years.
For Seymour though, it’s his passion, creating scenes for his 12 characters and then showcasing them on social media and in schools.

“They’ve been a part of my life, my work, and my art, and they’ve actually brought a lot of joy and happiness to a lot of people and kids, especially in times of COVID,” Seymour says.

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In less than two hours during a family move, her dolls, her characters and her loves; were stolen.

While Blythe dolls only lasted a year in the ’70s due to fears the eyes were too scary for children, they’ve made a comeback according to expert and Blythe collector Lauren Ganos.

“In 2001, it became a much bigger deal in Japan. They’re all about American culture, they like big eyes and stuff and they found appreciation for that. They were only sold for a few bucks at a time in 1972 but nowadays Kenners depending on their condition can go anywhere from $500 less if you are lucky and find one at Goodwill otherwise they can go up to $3000 $, $4,000, $5,000, so they’re worth a lot of money depending on what you know about them,” says Ganos.

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The popularity of Blythe dolls can be seen on websites like BlytheWorld.com and ThisisBlythe.com.

Seymour says many of her dolls have been custom made by artists in Ukraine, Poland and Spain, to name a few. She offers what she calls a big reward and remains optimistic that the thief will change his mind.

“The dolls have their whole lives in suitcases and now they’ve been stolen; it’s like they’ve been kidnapped and please someone, no questions asked, give them back,” says Seymour.

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