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New York police seized a Greek who had stolen a painting by Salvador Dali

21 February 2013 / 16:02:10  GRReporter
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A Greek citizen was apprehended in New York for stealing a painting by the famous Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali from a gallery in New York. The small aquarelle "Don Juan Tenorio" worth 150 thousand dollars was stolen from the "Venus over Manhattan" gallery in Central Park in July 2012.
The police in the American metropolitan city focused its doubts on a man in a checked shirt, whom security cameras had captured leaving the gallery with the calm of an ordinary visitor. The thief had managed to remove the painting from the frame and to take it out literally from under the noses of the gallery guards.

It has emerged clear eight months later that the skilled thief is a Greek, Fivos Istavrioglou, aged 29, whom the New York police arrested at JFK airport last Saturday. The investigating authorities had lured him to go to Manhattan at the invitation of a gallery manager who was actually a policeman.

The thief of Dali’s painting, which the artist had painted in 1949, was found with the help of the fingerprints he had left during another robbery several months before the one in the gallery. He had stolen food and drinks from a supermarket in the southern part of Manhattan in January 2012. A fingerprint on a bottle of juice was enough for the New York police to find the thief of the aquarelle. The fact that he sought online information on the case before the media spread the news also helped the police to find him.
According to the police report, an anonymous sender sent the stolen painting to Greece a few days after the theft using the express delivery service of a post office, which is located behind the gallery. The canvas was discovered at JFK airport, packed as a student poster. Meanwhile, the thief had immediately left for Athens.

The moment the police authorities revealed the identity of Istavrioglou, an undercover policeman undertook the task of bringing him back to Manhattan, pretending to be an art gallery manager and offering him a job as a consultant.

Fivos Istavrioglou fell into the trap and left for Manhattan, and federal agents apprehended him when the plane landed at the airport. The thief did not resist and said he should "do the right thing". He stood before the court on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree theft. He paid bail to the amount of 100 thousand dollars to be released and the trial against him is expected to take place next Tuesday.

According to the minutes of the sitting of the court, Istavrioglou said that the moment he had left the gallery in the afternoon of 19 July 2012 with the painting in his bag, he felt "scared and could not believe what a silly thing" he had done.

"The way the theft was carried out is completely surreal. The thief is accused of putting Salvador Dali’s valuable work in a shopping bag at midday in the "sight" of security cameras," comments prosecutor Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Equally surreal seems the biography of 29-year-old Istavrioglou. He comes from a wealthy family whose business is trade of machinery. He studied Mass Media at Athens University.

He continued his education at Middlesex University in London and then returned to Greece, where he worked in the field of media and public relations. Istavrioglou was fond of social life, preferred expensive clothes and things and was known for his love for fitness and healthy eating. Because of his athletic body, he was chosen to pose for nude photos for charity purposes within the context of the "Naked City" campaign of the Greek Lifo magazine.

In 2010, Fivos Istavrioglou pretended to be the owner of a public relations company based in New York, which connected the heirs of famous fashion icons like Daphne Guinness with Greek jewellery designers like Nikos Koulis. In the same year, he moved to Milan, where he started working at the headquarters of Moncler fashion house.

According to the Greek media, there are serious doubts as to whether his acquaintances with celebrities about which he had boasted are real.


Tags: Crime newsTheftGalleryPaintingSalvador DaliFivos IstavrioglouNew York
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