Woman Steals Artwork from Gallery in Zagreb, Gets Job Offer in Return

By 20 February 2018

"One thing is certain: art can get you on the wrong side on the law."

A strange case of art heist with an unexpected twist comes our way from the Cultural and Information Centre (KIC) in Zagreb: a couple of days ago, a single photograph was stolen from the First Floor Gallery in KIC which is currently hosting an exhibition of photographer Goran Pavletić.

The entire course of events was caught on footage by security cameras installed in the gallery. An unidentified girl took a photo out of its frame, put the frame back on the wall, and walked out of the room, calm and composed. See for yourself:

Was she quick or what? The time stamp shows it was 23:26 when she entered the gallery, and it only took her a minute to get her hands on the piece and casually walk out like nothing ever happened.

While you might expect any management who caught a thief on camera to report the act to the police, the gallery opted for an unusual approach: they offered the anonymous art thief a job!

Here's a statement penned by gallery director Emil Matešić:

"It finally happened. We have a legitimate, highly motivated lover of contemporary art here in Croatia. In the First Floor Gallery (Galerija na katu), at the photo exhibition of Goran Pavletić, someone stole a photograph whose mystical ambiance and symbolic meaning provoked reactions on the opening night.

The First Floor Gallery is proud for having selected an artist who has left a strong enough impression on the audience to inspire the unidentified lover of photographic art to commit burglary. It's also hard not to notice we have a legitimate admirer of arts on our hands - after she had taken the photo out of the wooden frame, she placed the frame back at its place on the wall.

As the institution is monitored by security cameras, we're releasing footage of the crime scene and the thief to the public, along with a photo of the stolen work.

Screenshot from 2018-02-20 23-29-05.png

Photo credit: KIC

While we are fully aware this was an illegal act, we are deeply touched by her motives, especially in this day and age where we all stand witnesses to the intense belittlement of both contemporary art and the importance of photography as part of culture in Croatia.

All things considered, fascinated by the risk-taking and meticulous thief, the institution director and co-manager of the First Floor Gallery wishes to offer her amnesty from prosecution and a chance to curate one photography exhibition in FFG", wrote the director, promising to proclaim the criminal act null and void in case the perpetrator decides to reach out and accept his offer.

"This will enable her to share her taste with the public in the manner of curating an exhibition or some other project. It's still hard to say whether this incident can birth a new curator persona in the Croatian culture, reaffirming Warhol's [statement] on 15 minutes of fame, but one thing is certain - art can get you on the wrong side of the law", Matešić concluded.

And we all thought it was hard to find employment in Croatia... turns out, you just have to be creative in your approach to the job market. Jokes aside, a fine move on the gallery's part - here's to hoping the girl will come forward.