These thieves had expensive tastes.
Police are trying to track down a group of painting pilferers who stole art from a gallery in midtown Manhattan, and their mad dash on Madison Avenue was caught on camera.
The crime was vibrantly painted on the mind of Charles Saffati, the owner of Carlton Fine Arts, who said that the group parked on 55th Street before one of them walked down a block. He took out a hammer and broke one of the glass front doors, he said.
“He came in through here. He pulled the piece off of this easel. A Chagall. Eve. It’s a $100,000 piece,” said Saffati.
Eve is the name of the artwork, one of only a handful in the world, created by Marc Chagall.
“The three major masters of the 20th century were: Picasso, Marc Chagall and John Miro,” Saffati said.
As the alleged thieves smashed their way into the famed art gallery, they were unaware cameras in the area were capturing their escape.
Their getaway attempt wasn’t exactly picture perfect, trying to stuff the pricey piece of art in the backseat of a 1996 Honda Accord that has seen better days while rain came down on the artwork. The car had front passenger side damage nd a rear tire missing a hubcap, detectives said.
“They slid it in the back seat of the car and they took off, and they made a turn on 57th Street,” Saffati said.
Police are working to identify the man seen on surveillance video wearing a grey cap, as well as a person holding an umbrella and the driver of the Accord.
The shop has been in business since the 1960s, and its owner was shaken by the heist in the high-end neighborhood.
“The Saint Regis is down the block, you got the Palace Hotel. You got the Peninsula Hotel. It’s a very high-end area,” he 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 has added extra security at the expense of the company’s bottom line.
“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,” he told News 4. “It’s unacceptable. It’s Madison Avenue, we need protection. We have the best police force in the world but their hands are tied.”
The NYPD’s Major Case Squad is investigating the incident. Anyone with information regarding the thieves, the work of art or the car used in the getaway is asked to contact the NYPD immediately.