South African museum hit by thieves

A South African museum has been hit by art thieves who made away with valuable works of art. Posing as visitors, the gang of thieves entered Pretoria Art Museum – even paying the $2.25 (approximately £1.5) entrance fee – and then set about illegally appropriating paintings.
Brandishing pistols, they quickly forced other visitors to the ground, officials confirmed. They then began asking members of staff about the whereabouts of specific paintings, which they then gathered. It appears to have been a very focused robbery – they knew what they wanted.
This included work by several notable South African artists: an oil painting of a chief by Hugo Naude; a colourful depiction of sailboats beside a pier by Irma Stern; a picture of a cat next to a vase by Maggie Laubser; a drawing of a bird by J.H. Pierneef and a pastel representation of a street scene by Gerard Sekoto.
They left behind one of the works they had been keen on taking, another mesmeric effort by Stern, a brilliant oil painting of two musicians. The late artist is one of the most celebrated painters in South Africa, achieving international fame during her lifetime.
South African authorities stated that this was merely a consequence of the criminals being unable to fit it into their getaway car, which they have identified as a silver sedan.
After drugs and the sale of illicit arms, art theft is considered the most lucrative crime in the world, and while the actual value of a work is greatly diminished on the black market, there are, nevertheless, people out there willing to pay serious money.
This kind of crime in South Africa is rare, but, with the stock of the country’s art rising fast, there is a fear that this will not be an exception.
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