A 29-year-old man has been indicted for stealing Spanish artist Salvador Dali's "Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio" from a New York gallery last year, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office said.
Phivos Istavrioglou was arrested last Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport for taking the $150,000 painting from the Venus Over Manhattan gallery on the Upper East Side on June 19, 2012.
"It was almost surreal how this theft was committed - a thief is accused of putting a valuable Salvador Dali drawing into a shopping bag in the middle of the afternoon, in full view of surveillance cameras," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said in a statement.
The 1949 work was mailed back to the gallery anonymously from Greece after surveillance images of the suspect were released to the public, the DA's office said.
"This brazen heist from a Manhattan gallery is the latest in a string of cases involving theft or fraud in the art world that my Office has prosecuted. Today's indictment brings us one step closer to bringing an international art caper to a close," Vance said.
Istavrioglou returned to New York at the invitation of a New York Police Department detective posing as an art galery manager.
"I commend detectives for matching a fingerprint in the Dali theft to a shoplifting last year in which Blueprint juice was taken from a Manhattan Whole Foods, resulting in Istavrioglou's identification," NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said.
Istavrioglou was indicted on one count of second degree grand larceny. EFE