News Articles Library Event Photos Contact Search


Monday, 12 November 2012 14:27

A $2 Million Art Heist in South Africa

Irma Stern's 1931 "Fishing Boats" was among the five paintings stolen from the Pretoria Art Museum. Irma Stern's 1931 "Fishing Boats" was among the five paintings stolen from the Pretoria Art Museum. The City of Tshwane via AP Photo

A sharp upswing in the value of South Africa’s best-known art has led to the country’s biggest art heist. Posing as paying visitors at the Pretoria Art Museum, three men proceeded to hold the museum staff at gunpoint and walk away with works by local masters Irma Stern, Gerard Sekoto, JH Pierneef, Maggie Laubser, and Hugo Naude.

Images of the criminals were not recorded because the museum’s camera surveillance system broke down on November 8, three days before the heist. Officials did alert Interpol. The three criminals left behind the most expensive piece in the museum’s collection, Two Malay Musicians by Irma Stern, due to lack of space in their getaway car. Works by other well-known South African artists such as William Kentridge, Walter Battiss, and Robert Hodgins were left untouched.

The five stolen artworks were owned by the City of Tshwane and were insured.

Additional Info

  • Category: News
Events