In the Morning Spice Headlines this morning, we carried a story that indicated that South Africa could be the latest hunting ground for thieves looking for valuable paintings. But, what if our own artists where behind this trend?
That’s what a tip to South Africa’s Crime Line is saying, and that police are taking seriously.
Yesterday, a tip-off regarding the robbery at the Pretoria Art Museum in which three men brazenly made off with paintings worth R17,5 million was received by Crime Line.
The head of Crime Line, Yusuf Abramjee, said the information had been passed on to police to follow up, and that the tip involved a top Pretoria artist.
The stolen paintings included Irma Stern’s Fishing Boats (1931) valued at R9 million, Gerard Sekoto’s Street Scene (R7 million), Maggie Laubser’s Cat and Petunias (1936) valued at R1 million, Hugo Naudé’s Hottentot Chief (R300 000) and Pierneef’s Eland and Bird (1961) valued at R45 000.
The thieves, who posed as art students and their lecturer, left the most valuable painting behind – Irma Stern’s Two Malay Musicians, valued at R12 million – because it couldn’t fit into their car.
Luckily for the thieves, there was a technical problem with the CCTV cameras, and there is no surveillance evidence of the robbery. But, maybe they already knew that.
Tshwane Metro Council Mayoral spokesman Pieter de Necker said of the alleged inside job:
At this stage we do not want to say or suspect an inside job. That is up to the police to prove. Every person is a suspect at this stage.
He continued that the manner in which the men staged the robbery suggested they must have done their homework, and that museums needed to up their games as a result.
This should be an interesting story to follow.
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