Man arrested in theft of $150,000 painting

Feb. 20, 2013 at 2:54 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- A Greek man was arrested in New York City, charged with grand larceny in the theft of a Salvador Dali painting from a Manhattan art gallery, officials said.

Phivos Istavrioglou, 29, was charged Tuesday with one count of second-degree grand larceny and was being held for $100,000 bond for the June 19 theft of Dali's 1949 watercolor "Cartel de Don Jan Tenorio" from the Venus Over Manhattan gallery, CNN reported Wednesday.

Surveillance video showed a man who pretended to be a customer taking the painting, valued at $150,000, off the wall, placing it in a shopping bag, and leaving the gallery, CNN reported.

The painting was returned anonymously by mail, recovered by customs at New York's Kennedy International Airport June 28 and returned to the gallery, CNN reported.

A detective posing as the business manager of an art gallery lured Istavrioglou to New York with a proposal of employment as an art gallery consultant. The alleged thief was stopped Saturday by Homeland Security agents and arrested by the New York police, the district attorney's office said.

"Today's indictment brings us one step closer to bringing an international art caper to a close," New York County District Attorney Cy Vance said.

Istavrioglou's lawyer, David Cohen, said the defendant does not face mandatory jail time. Cohen said he will challenge Istavrioglou's high bail amount.

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