The thief makes his exit with Dali from Venus Over Manhattan

Moncler PR charged with theft of Dali painting

Phivos Istavrioglou arrested at airport on Saturday as he's tricked by detective posing as gallery owner

Those of you with good memories may remember our story from last June about the brazen theft of a Salvador Dali painting from the Venus Over Manhattan Gallery in New York. CCTV footage captured the thief lifting the $150,000 painting, Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio off the wall - in broad daylight - then exiting the gallery with it in a carrier bag. It was subsequently mailed back to the gallery just over a week later in a package postmarked Greece. 

It seems some very inspired and dedicated detective work has turned up the man arrested in connection with the crime, 29-year-old Phivos Istavrioglou,  a former international PR for the high end fashion house Moncler. He's been charged in New York State Supreme Court with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree.

Last Saturday (February 16) at the invitation of an undercover detective posing as a business manager for an art gallery offering him a consultation job, Istavrioglou flew to New York from Milan, where he was arrested by federal Homeland Security agents at Kennedy Airport.


Salvador Dali's Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio 1949
Salvador Dali's Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio 1949

Istavrioglou was linked to the Dali theft by a fingerprint left on the packaged up painting which matched a fingerprint relating to a shoplifting incident last January in which a bottle of BluePrintJuice was lifted from a New York wholefoods store.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “More than ‘persistence of memory’ helped solve this case. I commend detectives for matching a fingerprint in the Dali theft to a shoplifting last year resulting in Istavrioglou’s identification. And also, our undercover detective for his convincing role as a New York art gallery manager, which led to the suspect’s apprehension. I congratulate the NYPD Major Case Squad, the NYPD Forensics Investigation Division, and their partners in Homeland Security for their work in this case, as well as Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and his staff for prosecuting it.”