Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Thieves entered a South African art gallery as paying visitors before holding staff up at gunpoint and producing a “shopping list” of paintings they wanted totalling R27m (£2 million) in value.The heist saw the three men make off with five paintings by local masters Irma Stern, Gerard Sekoto, JH Pierneef, Maggie Laubser and Hugo Naude, worth R15m, from the Pretoria Art Museum.
They left a sixth painting that had been on their list, Irma Stern’s “Two Malay Musicians”, valued at R12 million, on the pavement outside the gallery, apparently because they couldn’t fit it in their getaway car, a silver Toyota Avanza.
The thieves are said by police to have all paid the R20 (£1.44) entrance fee to enter the capital’s art gallery and waited until other visitors had left before launching their raid.
Daywood Khans, a member of staff at the gallery, told local radio station Eye Witness News (EWN) that the men pointed a gun at him and produced a “shopping list” of artworks.
“They pulled out a list and said they were looking for so-and-so painting which is among our old masterpieces,” he said.
“They left one of the paintings behind when it did not fit into their getaway car.” Stephen Welz, an art expert, told the Pretoria News newspaper that he was puzzled by the theft, as such famous works of art were so well documented that it was nearly impossible to sell them, locally or abroad.
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