Thief Strolls Out of Gallery With $20K Dali Etching

Employee at San Francisco's Dennis Rae Fine Art says it happened in a flash
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2019 8:22 AM CDT
Thief Strolls Out of Gallery With $20K Dali Etching
In this May 21, 1973, file photo, Salvador Dali is seen in Paris.   (AP Photo/Eustache Cardenas, File)

No dead of night needed for this art heist: A thief sauntered into a San Francisco gallery in the middle of the afternoon, lifted a famous Salvador Dali piece worth $20,000, and walked right back out, all in just over 30 seconds, per KGO. The framed mid-'60s etching titled "Burning Giraffe" was on an easel at the front of Dennis Rae Fine Art's show floor, with Rasjad Hopkins, the gallery's director, working a solo shift, when the theft happened around 4:30pm Sunday, reports CBS San Francisco. Hopkins says he turned his back for just a second, and when he turned back around, the rare artwork was gone. He hadn't seen the suspect, and he tells Time that the gallery's camera wasn't on, but surveillance cameras from neighboring businesses caught a man in a blue T-shirt and hat walking away from the gallery with the etching in hand.

One of the cameras also spotted what appears to be a female accomplice who hovered outside the gallery's front door while the male suspect did the heavy lifting inside. KGO notes the etching normally would've been secured to the easel with a lock and tether, leading to speculation on whether the thief was able to quickly cut the cable while in the gallery. But Hopkins thinks that during a showing the day before, the tether had been removed and perhaps not reattached before the gallery opened on Sunday. "I think it was a theft of opportunity," he tells Time. Gallery workers say the piece is well known and numbered, so it's unlikely anyone would be able to easily sell it online without attracting notice. "It's a very hot item," one employee tells KGO. Anyone with information on the theft is encouraged to call local police. (More Salvador Dali stories.)

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