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How a Whole Foods Juice Box Led the NYPD to a Fashion Publicist Turned Art Thief

Yesterday, a fashion publicist plead guilty to stealing a Salvador Dali painting from an Upper East Side gallery. The Daily Mail reports that he was discovered when the police matched his fingerprints to ones that were on a juice box he'd previously stolen from Whole Foods. By pleading guilty, he's avoiding jail time but will have to pay $9,100 in restitution until he is formally sentenced in March. At that point he'll probably be deported to Greece. 

Last year, Phivos Istavrioglou was just an unknown Greek man who security cameras filmed removing a pricy work of art from a gallery wall and stuffing it in a plastic shopping bag. (Which, from what I understand, is a not uncommon way to steal famous paintings. This is all hearsay, but when I was in college, some kid stole a Jasper Johns using the exact same method. He took it home with him on the subway. A few months later, a security guard showed at one of his classes being like, "Hey?")

Our hero fled to Europe, but when he saw that the NYPD was on the hunt (they were sharing screenshots from the security camera which showed him just casually stealing a famous painting with major news outlets all around the world), he removed the Dali from its frame, rolled it up into a poster tube and sent it back to the U.S. 

Since he didn't take any measures to prevent himself from fingerprinting all over the tube and the painting before sending it back, police quickly discovered that they were dealing with the same idiot who'd stolen juice from Whole Foods the previous year. (Literally, anyone that's ever seen a police procedural or like, Pretty Little Liars even, would have worn gloves and bypassed the whole fingerprint situation.)

The cops "lured him" back into the U.S. by (true story) posing as an art consultant at a gallery which neighbored the one he stole from. This guy is being such an unbelievable idiot I have to think this is either 1) a weird, poorly calculated guerrilla marketing scheme for either Moncler, the high-end French outerwear brand he's been a publicist for, or the gallery he thieved from (as reported last year by NBC), Venus Over Manhattan, or 2) a performance art piece?



Collage made with Sketchfu juice box