Armed Museum Robbery in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Thieves posing as eager art students with their teacher stole more than $2 million worth of paintings from a museum in South Africa’s capital in a daring armed robbery, authorities said Monday.

The theft Sunday at the Pretoria Art Museum saw robbers calmly pay $2.25 apiece for tickets and ask a curator to show them specific paintings at the gallery before they pulled out pistols and forced all others to the ground, officials said. They tied up the curator and others before collecting the paintings they previously asked about, official said.

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.

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