Dali Theft: Phivos Istavrioglou, Moncler Publicist, Pleads Guilty For Stealing Salvador Dali Painting

02/27/2013 08:56 am ET | Updated Feb 28, 2013

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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