Art Heist

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“Cartel des Don Juan Tenorio” by Salvadore Dali

Last June, a man woke up and decided, “What the hell! I’m going to steal some art today!” He walked into the Venus Over Manhattan gallery on the Upper East Side, took a Dali watercolor valued at $150,000 off the wall, put it in a shopping bag, walked out, and promptly had a panic attack. The entire heist was caught on the gallery’s security camera.

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Clearly whoever was supposed to be watching the security tapes has been fired.

The master thief, identified as Phivos Istavrioglou, 29, recovered enough from the shock to board a plane back to his native Athens, only to have such intolerable Thievery Remorse (similar to Buyer’s Remorse, only with less morals) as to roll the painting in a packing tube and mail it back to the gallery from a fake address in Europe. Authorities were able to identify his fingerprints on the painting and packaging from a water bottle he stole from a Whole Foods a year prior. COME ON. (Though I think it’s interesting to note here that in the span of a year, Phivos graduated from water bottles to surrealist paintings. That’s like, highly advanced kleptomania.)

Anyway, the gallery owner tricked him into returning to the states for a job interview; they feigned interest in hiring him as a consultant, AND HE FELL FOR IT. It must be so amazing to be in this guy’s head; the world is full of nothing but possibilities! FBI Agents stopped him at JFK on Saturday and arrested him. He appeared  in court yesterday where he pleaded not guilty to grand larceny.

Thank you to Lauren for the tip. Thanks, girl!

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February 20, 2013 / art / photo / Art Heist / LEAVE A COMMENT / 16

16 comments

  • they could make a whole movie based around this man’s thought processes! i love it! this is my favourite one yet!!! bahahahahaha…

    • I’m sure that would make for a really fascinating story, if we delved into it further. Poor guy! xo

  • oh, i kind of feel sorry for him. he obviously has a more complicated issue going on than just being a thug. like you said, water to a dali watercolor . . . he needs a consequence like he has to wear fingerless mittens every time he goes into a store or gallery from now on.

    • Haha it could be like “dog shaming” only for people, a la The Scarlet Letter. But seriously, you have to feel bad for the guy! That’s not normal behavior by any stretch of the imagination. xo

  • Yet another stupid criminal story. I love your art heist posts!

    • Thanks, Moo! They’re really fun to post, too. Haha xoxo

  • What?! You just can’t make this stuff up. And you made me chuckle: Advanced Kleptomania!

    • Haha, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction! xoxo

  • Oh my goodness, these posts just keep getting better and better! I don’t if I should feel incredible bad for this man (like Christine mentions, there is something more to his derangement) or laugh uncontrollably. Probably the former. He rolled up the painting and mailed it back to the museum?! Incredible!

    • I know, it’s kind of sad! At least he had enough of a conscience to want to make the situation right again. But yeah, he rolled it up and mailed it back. Crazy! xo

  • Haha, what a jackass! How could he fall for that?! My god.

    • Hahaha, wouldn’t you think that was too good to be true, if the place you just stole from is inviting you back for a job interview?? For a job you didn’t even apply to?? So weird! xo

  • Brilliant! If only we all had the balls to behave like these complete maniacs, life would be so much more interesting :-)
    x

    • Right?? Imagine not having a pesky conscience to deal with…the world would succumb to total anarchy, haha. xoxo

  • what a doofus!
    wonder what he stole in between water bottles and paintings?

  • Hahah, this story cracked me up. A total case of ‘not thinking it through’