Stolen Dali Painting Recovered In Return To Sender Mystery

A painting by the Surrealist Salvador Dali stolen from a Manhattan gallery, last week has been recovered. Police said on Friday 29 June that the 1949 painting, titled “Cartel des Don Juan Tenorio,” and valued at an estimated $150,000 had been taken from The Venus Over Manhattan gallery on Madison Avenue.  The incident occurred when a man strolled into the gallery , asked a security guard if he could photograph the work and when the guards’s back was turned, put the coloured drawing into a shopping bag and fled unchallenged.

It was recovered at Kennedy Airport, when the picture was mailed back from an undisclosed European location. Police sources said surveillance cameras show a man wearing a dark shirt with white polka dots enter the gallery with a black cloth bag. He is later seen on cameras leaving the gallery with the painting, police sources said. The painting has now been authenticated by the gallery and will be back on display for next week. The gallery has stated their relief in the return of this 20th century masterwork. Hot off the heals of the ‘art thief’ Mark Lugo case, where police recovered a Picasso and a Leger painting valued at 500k, the NYPD have had a very busy year. Lugo is now serving a two year sentance in jail.

Dalí, Salvador (1904-89) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and designer. After passing through phases of Cubism, Futurism and Metaphysical painting, he joined the Surrealists in 1929 and his talent for self-publicity rapidly made him the most famous representative of the movement. Throughout his life he cultivated eccentricity and exhibitionism (one of his most famous acts was appearing in a diving suit at the opening of the London Surrealist exhibition in 1936), claiming that this was the source of his creative energy. He took over the Surrealist theory of automatism but transformed it into a more positive method which he named `critical paranoia’. According to this theory one should cultivate genuine delusion as in clinical paranoia while remaining residually aware at the back of one’s mind that the control of the reason and will has been deliberately suspended. He claimed that this method should be used not only in artistic and poetical creation but also in the affairs of daily life. His paintings employed a meticulous academic technique that was contradicted by the unreal `dream’ space he depicted and by the strangely hallucinatory characters of his imagery. He described his pictures as `hand-painted dream photographs’ and had certain favorite and recurring images, such as the human figure with half-open drawers protruding from it, burning giraffes, and watches bent and flowing as if made from melting wax (The Persistence of Memory, MOMA, New York; 1931).

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