x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Dali in the mail

A few days ago, a gallery in Manhattan received an email saying a stolen painting was on its way back. By Friday, it had arrived, by post, from Europe, apparently intact and unchanged.

For a man whose work came to define the early surrealist art movement, the latest movement of his art was, well, surreal. When a drawing by Salvador Dali, the Spanish painter best known for his 1931 work Persistence of Memory, was stolen from a New York gallery 10 days ago, it was taken in an unsatisfyingly prosaic fashion: the thief merely picked it off the wall, put it in a bag and walked off.

The man did not have even the dedication to Dali-esque absurdity to put on appropriate attire, perhaps a black cape, or a Superman costume, or at least a curled handlebar moustache. Instead, he wore a chequered shirt.

Perhaps realising his mistake, the thief repented and decided to return the painting, a 1949 work called Cartel des Don Juan Tenorio valued at $150,000 (Dh550,000). A few days ago, the gallery in Manhattan received an email saying the painting was on its way back. By Friday, it had arrived, by post, from Europe, apparently intact and unchanged. There was no note explaining his motives.

We consider this a missed opportunity. The least Man in a Chequered Shirt could have done was parody another great surrealist, and contemporary of Salvador Dali, René Magritte, and write: "This is not a heist."