A surveillance camera caught a suspected thief walking into a San Francisco art gallery and out seconds later apparently carrying a $20,000 artwork by Salvador Dali.
The 20x26-inch etching titled “Burning Giraffe” was displayed on an easel that could be seen from a front window. It was part of a larger exhibit of the Spanish surrealist’s works at the Dennis Rae Fine Art gallery.
“They just popped in to the gallery, probably distracting one of my coworkers,” gallery director Angela Kellett told ABC affiliate KGO-TV. “It was our showcase item. We have a special Salvador Dali show right now, and, yeah, they just ran off with it, too quick for anyone to do anything about it.”
(Check out the interview in the video above.)
A cable and lock attaching the work to the easel were also missing when the etching was grabbed Sunday, according to KGO. It wasn’t known if the cable was cut at the time the work was taken or had been removed earlier.
The heist reportedly took all of 32 seconds. The thief apparently had a female accomplice who stayed outside and acted as a lookout. The thief’s escape was reportedly captured on other sidewalk surveillance cameras.
It’s not clear how the etching will be fenced. Art thieves sometimes serve clients who want particular pieces, but gallery director Rasjad Hopkins, who was working in the gallery at the time of the theft, told The Associated Press that he believes the heist was a “theft of opportunity.”
The thief was “in and out of there in a shot,” he said.
Hopkins called the1960s limited-edition, hand-colored work “one of the most desirable pieces out of that period.” He also said it was insured.