Thieves in South Africa entered an art gallery as customers before they held the curators up at gunpoint and stole several paintings worth more than $2 million.
The robbers entered the Pretoria Art Museum in Johannesburg as paying customers and asked staff members to show them paintings in a gallery before producing their pistols. They then tied the curator up and made off with the paintings, reported the The Associated Press, citing local officials.
“Three men, under the pretense 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,” Johannesburg city spokesman Pieter de Necker told the South African Press Association (SAPA).
They stole works from South African artists Irma Stern, J.H. Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto, and others.
Museum worker Daywood Khans told SAPA that “they left one of the paintings behind when it did not fit into their getaway car.”
The Pretoria Art Museum was closed Sunday and will reopen next week, according to SAPA.
De Necker told AP that “we’re very, very surprised” that thieves would steal the paintings.
“It is very uncommon. We have realized also that over the last few years … the overseas market has grown into wanting South African art,” he said.
SAPA reported the security cameras stopped working last Thursday, but the museum was being guarded by three private security personnel, De Necker told SAPA.
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