Dali sculpture snatched from Belgian museum: report

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A man stole a bronze sculpture by Salvador Dali in broad daylight at an exhibit in western Belgium, walking away with the statuette hidden in a bag, Belgian media said Friday.

The man bought a ticket like any other customer to visit the Dali exhibit at the Belfry tower in Bruges on Wednesday afternoon, walked around the halls and removed the piece from its base, the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported.

The whole scene was captured by surveillance cameras, which police were examining, Belga news agency reported.

The statuette, titled "Woman With Drawers" and created in 1964, is worth between 100,000 and 120,000 euros (127,000-152,000 dollars), Bruges police said. It is 50 centimetres (20 inches) high and weighs 10 kilos (22 pounds).

The Spanish surrealist artist's piece depicts a young woman lying on her side with six drawers coming out of her chest and abdomen.

The statue was insured but it was not protected by an alarm system, one of the exhibit's organisers, Stefaan Delbaere, told Het Laatste Nieuws.

The gallery's two guards were also in charge of selling tickets and an accomplice to the crime had probably blocked their view from the theft, Delbaere said.

The theft took place nearly one year after a paiting by Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte was snatched from a Brussels museum, also in broad daylight.

In September 2009, two masked men with a pistol entered the museum dedicated to Magritte's life and work, and took a 1948 nude entitled "Olympia" worth between 750,000 and three million euros.

© 2010 AFP

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