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Thieves Rob South African Art Museum with Car Too Small to Haul Most Valuable Piece

The Pretoria Art Museum in South Africa was just the victim of a terrible robbery — but the thieves weren’t quite smart enough to take full advantage of their haul. They stole $2 million in art, but the most significant piece was left behind because it didn’t fit in their car.

The mistake seems strange, because the thieves acted pretty professionally throughout the rest of their crime: The trio pretended to be an art teacher guiding around two students, then pulled out guns and forced museum employee Daywood Khan to guide them around to find a “shopping list” of paintings to steal, reports ABC News. These included works by famous South African artists such as expressionist Irma Stern and Gerard Sekoto, a social realist painter, as well as Maggie Laubser and Hugo Naude.

Unfortunately for the robbers but fortunately for everyone else, Stern’s “Two Malay Musicians,” the most valuable work in the museum at $1.4 million, was too big to steal. The thieves tossed it out onto the ground outside the museum, where staff rushed to its rescue. Bloomberg reports that the haul was likely the biggest art theft in the history of South Africa, and notes that it could have been motivated by skyrocketing prices for South African artists.

Read more: Hyper Allergic


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