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Armed robbers steal $2 million worth of art from Pretoria museum in South Africa

By Daniel S Levine,

Authorities in South Africa are still looking for the thieves who pulled off a daring art heist at the Pretoria Art Museum, taking an estimated $2 million worth of art.

The thieves gained entrance into the museum by paying for the $2.25 museum tickets and pretending to be art students doing their homework with a teacher. Officials say that they asked for a curator to show them specific paintings, then tied up the curator and other visitors, according to The Associated Press. They took mostly oil paintings, which they had asked about during their tour.

“They pulled out a list and said they were looking for so and so painting which is our old masterpieces,” Daywood Khans, a museum employee, told the local media, reports The AFP.

City spokesperson Pieter de Necker said that among the works stolen was a 1931 painting by the well known South African artist Irma Stern. The three robbers left pretending to be security guards just before the museum closed. Unfortunately, the video surveillance at the museum stopped working on Thursday, de Necker said.

The museum will remain closed on Monday and several valuable pieces have already been taken to storage.

According to the BBC, Lt Col Mogale said that, “No arrests have been made but we are following a few leads.”

While violent crime is still an issue in South Africa, the AP notes that art thefts rarely occur. Art theft is still the third most lucrative crime in the world. Recently, thieves stole works by Picasso, Monet and others at a museum in the Netherlands.

 

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