|"Street Scene" by Gerard Sekoto was one of the paintings stolen|
from the Pretoria Art Museum
(City of Tishwane, Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times' website)
Three men paid admission to the Pretoria Art Museum, checked to see that the art gallery was empty, then pointed a gun at a museum employee and used a list to steal six paintings worth 15 million South African Rands on Sunday morning -- although one of the paintings was abandoned when it did not fit into the getaway car, a silver Toyota Avante.
Robyn Dixon for The Los Angeles Times identified the painting left behind on the sidewalk as "Two Malay Musicians" by Irma Stern, valued at $1.5 million, the most valuable work taken from the museum.
"It's particularly distressing to see the increased use of violence in the commission of art crimes," said Chris Marinello, director of the Art Loss Register. "Let's face it, very few museum security measures can stand up to an armed group of criminals. The last thing we want to see is airport- like security at museums around the world but it does look like we're approaching that solution. It's a sad commentary on society."
The museum's closed-circuit television system was not working -- a problem was reported on Thursday, according to a spokesman for the municipality. The museum's CCTV was repaired Monday morning, Dixon reported.
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The five stolen paintings included work by Irma Stern, Gerard Sekoto, Maggie Laubser, JH Pierneef, and Hugo Naude.
Jon Gambrell of the Associate Press reported from Johannesburg that the stolen art is valued at $2 million in US dollars:
The robbers favored oil paintings in their theft, grabbing a 1931 painting by famous South African artist Irma Stern of brightly colored sailboats waiting against a pier, city spokesman Pieter de Necker said. Other works stolen included a gouache drawing of an eland and bird by South African landscape artist J.H. Pierneef, a pastel-toned street scene by Gerard Sekoto, a thick-stroked oil painting of a chief by Hugo Naude and a picture of a cat near a vase full of petunias by Maggie Laubser.