A burglar who broke into a luxury flat owned by a famous painter in Mid-Levels on Hong Kong Island stole jewelry worth about HK$850,000 (about US$109,000) on Tuesday, but not her valuable paintings.

The 76-year-old painter Delia Chien returned her flat at Sakura Court on Kennedy Road at 11pm but was unable to unlock the door, Apple Daily reported.

Chien called a locksmith to open the door – and found her home had been ransacked. She reported the case to police.

Officers believe burglars climbed up pipes outside the building and prised a window open to get into the apartment.

Jewellery including rings, necklaces and watches worth about HK$850,000 were stolen.

However, valuable paintings stored in a 200-square-feet gallery inside the apartment were safe.

Police searched the area but no arrests were made.

Delia Chien studied painting in Rome and completed an oil painting master class in the United States in 1999. She has held over 20 solo exhibitions in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Austria and the USA. Her paintings have been collected by the United Nations regional office in Vienna, Tai Kung Pao reported.