Man charged with trying to steal Dali painting in New York

The thief reportedly put the valuable painting in a shopping bag and walked out with it in the middle of the day

By Prachi Gupta

Published February 20, 2013 10:20PM (EST)

Twenty-nine year old Phivos Istavrioglou of Athens, Greece, has been charged with stealing a $150,000 Salvador Dali painting from the Venus Over Manhattan gallery in New York, BBC reports.

Istavrioglou reportedly walked out with the painting in June 2012. "It was almost surreal how this theft was committed," said District Attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr. "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."

Istavrioglou, whose handprints were on the painting, sent it back to New York after seeing surveillance images. Police caught him thanks to a previous shoplifting incident and were able to match his fingerprints to those in the system. An investigator posing as art gallery owner was then able to lure him back to New York under the premise of hiring him as a consultant.

Although he has pleaded not guilty, during the questioning, Istavrioglou said that "he knew the theft would catch up with him and wants to make [the] situation right".

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Dali Greece Heist New York Painting