The glass doors of a five-story art gallery in Midtown Manhattan were smashed, and a $100,000 lithograph by Marc Chagall was plucked from inside the dealership and walked down the block, according to a recent report from NBC New York.
The early morning heist took place at 2:20 a.m. on September 25, the gallery told ARTnews.
The thieves, whose smash-and-grab and getaway were recorded by surveillance cameras, parked their 1996 Honda Accord around 55th Street near Carton Fine Arts, the gallery’s owner, Charles Saffati, told NBC. One of them then walked down the block and began whacking at the front doors with a hammer. Once he had broken through, he pulled the Chagall painting off an easel near the doors.
While a dented 1996 Honda with a missing hubcap may not be the ideal getaway vehicle for an art heist, the group made do. Surveillance footage shows a man walking the piece back down the block toward the car. As rain came down on the framed work, he slid it into the back seat of the car and took off down Madison Avenue.
Carlton Fine Arts has been in business since 1969 and specializes in “modern masters and Pop Art,” according to its website. Household names like Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami, Peter Max, and KAWS are among the artists whose work it lists in its inventory of screenprints, aquatints, and lithographs.
“The Saint Regis is down the block. You got the Palace Hotel. You got the Peninsula Hotel. It’s a very high-end area,” Saffati told NBC New York. “You got Trump Tower two blocks away. A lot of police in that area too, so they have to be very brazen to come and do something like that.”
Saffati added that the heist has forced the gallery to upgrade its security system. “We had to put in an entire new storefront because we ended up putting security glass, we had to upgrade our alarm system. We added 24-hour armed security guards. It’s a tremendous cost for us.”