South African police find four stolen works of art
November 15, 2012
Earlier this week, five works of art were stolen from South Africa's Pretoria Art Museum, and four of them were believed to be found 650 miles away from the scene. Local police said they found the four works in a church cemetery in Port Elizabeth, according to the Los Angeles Times. Port Elizabeth radio station Algoa FM was the first to report that the art had been found undamaged, underneath a bench.
"Our dog unit of Port Elizabeth received information from an informer which led them to the Dutch Reformed Church in Sundridge Park. At the back of the propert y they found four paintings and it seems to be similar to the paintings that were stolen in the Gauteng area," police officer Sandra Janse van Rensburg told the radio station.
The four paintings were found wrapped in a red quilt around and did not appear to be damaged.
The paintings were stolen during an elaborate robbery this past Sunday. Three men posed as a teacher and two students, and then held up a staff member and requested the six most famous works of art in the museum. The gallery's security system was down at the time, as the member gave up the most valuable pieces, according to the news source.
As the robbers were in the process of getting into their getaway car, they were unable to fit the most valuable piece - "Two Malay Musicians," which is a 1930 work by Irma Stern. They left that painting on the sidewalk and were able to get away with pieces by Stern, Gerard Sekoto, J.J. Pierneef, Maggie Laubser and Hugo Naude. It is estimated that these all were valued at more than $2 million, the media outlet reports.
Even though the museum has the majority of the paintings back, they are still missing Sekoto's "Street Scene." It is unlikely that the robbers will put up this work of art on the black market soon seeing how it is very well-known. Authorities are still searching for these thieves, but have made no arrests.
Those who want to talk about the recent theft can make calls to South Africa using international calling cards.