The surreal theft of a Salvador Dali painting in broad daylight came to a realistic conclusion in court when publicist Phivos Istavrioglou recently pled guilty to stealing Dali's "Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio" from Venus Over Manhattan Gallery in New York.
Istavrioglou, a 29-year-old from Athens serving as Moncler's international press office manager, grabbed the 1949 drawing from the gallery walls, placed it into a shopping bag and simply walked out. The thief then fled to Greece, yet when he realized his face was caught on surveillance camera he panicked, sending the pricey work to JFK in the mail in a cardboard tube, dorm-poster style.
Authorities tracked down fashion-forward criminal thanks to fingerprints left on the shipment, which matched prints from a separate incident of a juice bottle being stolen from Whole Foods market, according to the Guardian.An investigator working with the Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance posed as a gallery owner offering Istavrioglou a position to lure him back to New York.
“It was a stupid thing to do,” the New York Times reports Istavrioglou told the court.
Prosecutors are asking four months of jail time and over $9,000 restitution for the investigation's cost. According to the Associated Press, Istavrioglou avoids additional jail time if he remains in prison until his formal sentencing on March 12.
We give props to Police commissioner Ray Kelly, who, as New York magazine points out, does not disappoint with the Dali puns. "More than 'persistence of memory' helped solve this case," he said in a press release.
Update: The Associated Press issued a correction to its original story, linked in the first paragraph of this article, stating that Istavrioglou's guilty plea was the result of the judge's offer of a less harsh punishment, not a plea deal between defenders and prosecutors. Istavrioglou is awaiting formal sentencing on March 12th, 2013.
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<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/22/octogenarians-hilarious-f_n_1821389.html#slide=1422628">So this eighty year old woman walks into a church in Spain</a> and takes it upon herself to restore a crackly old Jesus fresco. The result looks like an electrocuted ghost monkey and the art world goes wild. The culprit gets famous, makes money and earns the title of "<a href="http://www.artmediaagency.com/en/58210/cecilia-gimenez-or-the-worst-restorer-in-history-sales-her-work-on-ebay/">worst restorer in history</a>," and Beast Jesus becomes one of the most recognizable and beloved works of contemporary art.
Clyfford Still's Butt Massage
Sometimes you get drunk and make regrettable decisions. Like <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/04/carmen-tisch-charged-with_n_1185380.html">Carmen Tisch</a>, who rubbed her butt and urinated against a $30-40 million Clyfford Still painting. It happens, what's your question? Oh, also it was at 3:30 pm, aka five o'clock somewhere.
Many artists flirt with the boundary between high and low, art and entertainment, culture and celebrity. Domingo Zapata is not one of those artists. The star-crazy Mr. Brainwash wannabe (does that make him a wannabe wannabe?) churns out C-grade portraits of Lindsay Lohan, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/kim-kardashian-domingo-zapata_n_1408347.html">Kim Kardashian</a> and Sophia Vergara that go for around $100K. Can a washed up starlet start dating the man already so he will stop making art?
Obama In Pee Pee
Who would have thought one of the most controversial artists of the year would be conservative pundit Glenn Beck? Beck took a hint from Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" for his own pièce de résistance, "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/glenn-beck-obama-urine_n_2203697.html">Obama in Pee Pee,</a>" an Obama bobble head in a jar of "urine" (beer). Beck's jab at the art world's equation of scandalous art and good art hit a little close to home.
Super hip <strike>vandal</strike> alternative artist Vladimir Umanets made headlines when he scrawled the message "a potential piece of Yellowism" onto a Mark Rothko painting worth at least $8 million. Umanets attributed the act to his artistic movement Yellowism, which he described as "<a href="http://www.thisisyellowism.com/">not art or anti-art.</a>" Confused? <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/rothko-vandal-vladimir-umanets-jailed-tate_n_2292226.html">So was the court that sentenced him to two years in jail.</a>
Polka Dotted Caper
The awards for best-dressed art thief <em>and</em> least climactic art thief both go to the polka-dotted Dali caper, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/02/stolen-dali-painting-mail_n_1644631.html">who strolled up to an $150K Salvador Dali work</a>, casually dropped it in his tote bag and walked out of an art gallery at 5 pm. Surveillance guards are still kicking themselves. In their defense, they were blinded by the polka dots!
This year Richard Prince took a break from his normal artist duties to team up with AriZona iced tea and craft the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/18/richard-prince-arizona-be_n_1979016.html">perfect lemon fizzy beverage</a>. The commercial endeavor was made all the more bizarre by the seriousness Prince attached to the project, best exemplified in the black-and-white, hot-and-bothered head shot adorning every can. *Full disclosure, we did try the drink at Art Basel Miami Beach and it was quite refreshing.
This year the prestigious learning establishment that is the University of California decided its 144 year old logo had gotten a bit stale. The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/uc-logo-fail-new-unpopular-design_n_2293610.html">revamped logo</a> garnered comparisons to a flushing toilet, loading symbol and cheesy health care ad. After an onslaught of fury from students, alumna and people with eyes, the university agreed to suspend use of the new logo.
Baby Car Art Heist
Two art thieves probably experienced extreme nausea when they realized the Ford they had chosen as their getaway car <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/stockholm-art-heist-botch_n_1599836.html">was too small to fit their stolen loot</a>. After breaking into a house and stealing the hefty Carl Larsson work "Clair-Obscur," the criminal masterminds tried to squeeze it in the car, failed, and threw the $500,000 painting to the side of the road. To all future art thieves: just go with the standard white van.
World's Richest Artist Tries To Paint
You know Damien Hirst? The world's richest artist whose fortune estimates at about <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/damien-hirst-leaves-gagosian/">$346 million</a>? Yeah, well turns out he can't really paint. His 'Two Weeks One Summer' show at White Cube <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/25/the-harshest-reviews-of-d_n_1546141.html#slide=1023326">was truly "Guy Fieri-ed" from all angles</a>, from Jonathan Jone's comparison to the delusional works of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to our personal favorite tweet: "Insult a three year-old child's painting by saying 'Damien Hirst could've done that.'"
BONUS: COME ON, Met!
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/guerrilla-girls_n_1971512.html#slide=1670123">Really though?</a> It's 2012, guys.