Art theft: Overseas shopping list?

2012-11-12 22:36
A 1936 Maggie Laubser oil on canvas <em>Cat and Petunias</em>, one of five pieces stolen during a robbery at the Pretoria Art Museum. (Picture: AP)

A 1936 Maggie Laubser oil on canvas Cat and Petunias, one of five pieces stolen during a robbery at the Pretoria Art Museum. (Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Video

Art theft in Pretoria

2012-11-13 10:28

Art worth about R17.5m was stolen from a gallery in Pretoria. Watch.WATCH

kalahari.com

Johannesburg - An official hinted on Monday that growing international demand for South African artwork might be the reason for a brazen robbery at the Pretoria Art Museum where art worth about R17.5m was stolen.

Five pieces were stolen from the museum's permanent collection on Sunday when thieves posing as art students staged a daring arm robbery.

"Three men, under the pretence of being students and their art lecturer, asked to view specific pieces. After they were shown the paintings, they then tied up the museum official at gunpoint and took off with six paintings," mayoral spokesperson Pieter de Necker said.

"They left one painting [by] Irma Stern behind. Presumably because it was too big to fit into their [getaway] car."

The thieves left as private security guards at the museum drew close to them, he said.

According to museum staff, the thieves arrived with a "shopping list" of what they wanted, and demanded to be given specific paintings, Sapa reported.

After holding staff member Dawood Khan at gunpoint, they took out their list, and demanded to know where the paintings were.

De Necker said he and others believe the thieves were commissioned to go after those specific pieces because of their behaviour at the museum, according to AP.

"We're very, very surprised. It is very uncommon," he said.

"We have realised also that over the last few years ... the overseas market has grown into wanting South African art."

The robbers favoured oil paintings in their theft, grabbing a 1931 painting by artist Irma Stern of brightly coloured fishing boats waiting against a pier (Fishing Boats), a gouache drawing of an eland and bird (Eland And Bird - 1961) by landscape artist JH Pierneef, a pastel-toned street scene (Street Scene) by Gerard Sekoto, a thick-stroked oil painting of a chief (Hottentot Chief) by Hugo Naude and a 1936 picture of a cat near a vase full of petunias (Cat And Petunias) by Maggie Laubser.

Lucrative crime

Art theft is the third most lucrative crime in the world, after drugs and illicit arms sales, according to Interpol and the FBI.

However, actually selling famous works remains difficult for criminals either locally where the theft happened or abroad, authorities say.

Despite the challenges, estimates suggest there are billions of dollars made in stolen art sales annually across the world.

De Necker said national and international art organisations had been notified about the robbery and had been forwarded details of the paintings.

Police spokesperson Katlego Mogale said authorities had been alerted in case the thieves tried to take the art work outside of the country.

"The investigation is continuing," Mogale said. "Every measure is being put in place."

The museum has closed provisionally and will re-open on on 20 November.

"The art museum has taken precautionary steps by removing other valuable pieces until the police have completed their investigation," De Necker said.

He said that the city would also tighten security at the museum.

Three private security guards were on duty when the robbery took place, and security cameras were out of order.

"It is unfortunate the CCTV cameras were not working this weekend. A fault was reported on Thursday and has been fixed today," said De Necker.

He said the brazen robbery was a wake-up call that security needed to be tightened at museums across South Africa.

"Security at museums should be improved. This incident calls for extra measures to be implemented," he said.

- AP
Read more on:    art
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
25 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Oscar Pistorius
 

6 life hacks you simply have to know

A few simple tricks can make your life so much easier!

 
 

For chic geeks...

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose
It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may take extra pride in your work today. You have a need to shine and be respected so you may put the extra effort and TLC...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.