Thief Swipes Dali Painting

An artful thief swiped a $150,000 Salvador Dali painting off the wall of an upper-crust East Side gallery and just walked out the door with it, police said last Thursday.

Independent art collectors of ArtKabinett social network have witnessed a flurry of high profile art heists in the past few months.

Cops were hunting for a slight, balding man who posed as a customer at the brand-new Venus Over Manhattan Art Gallery last Tuesday afternoon who was asking a security guard if he could take a photo.

The gallery, located at 980 Madison Avenue, is a newly launched venue owned by collector Adam Lindemann.

As soon as the guard stepped away, the man removed the 1949 work by the famed Surrealist and dropped it into a large black shopping bag.

He rode the elevator from the third floor to the street and coolly fled down E. 77th St. with the 11-inch watercolor, titled “Cartel des Don Juan Tenorio.”

Police were trying to obtain video from the streets around the Madison Ave. gallery because they suspect the man had cased the place and lurked around the area on previous afternoons, a source said.

The owner of the gallery, polo-playing billionaire's son and radio-station mogul Adam Lindemann, couldn’t be reached for comment on the heist -- one of several to hit New York's art scene since last year.

The gallery, located at 980 Madison Avenue, is the newly launched art venue of Lindemann.

In May 2011, a thief took a Steven Parrino drawing of a tarantula worth $30,000 from the ground-floor Marc Jancou gallery in Chelsea, an art magazine reported.

In March, a brazen ripoff artist stole several Ellen Harvey paintings from a Lower East Side gallery, but the owner chased him down and got them back.

The suspect in the latest theft is white, 35 to 45 years old, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-9 with a receding hairline. He was wearing a black and white shirt, dark jeans and dark footwear, police said.

Lindemann -- who writes a column for the New York Observer and is a controversial collector -- opened the gallery in May. His father produced the first soft contact lens and his brother was convicted of arranging the electrocution of his show horse for insurance money in 1990.

It's unclear if the Dali, part of the galley's inaugural exhibit, was from his personal collection.

VOM’s current show, ”À Rebours,” is dimly lit, channeling the decadent interior of the Duc des Esseintes, who stars in J. K. Huysman’s book of the same name, presumably making a Dodge-style apprehension quite a bit more difficult. 

Police sources say gallery 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 the cameras leaving the gallery with the painting, police sources said.

The work had been installed low on a partitioned wall that was not visible from the main gallery space.

The thief certainly seems to have been well-informed: Surrealist art is hot these days. Last week, a prime Magritte made $11.3 million, nearly five times its high estimate, at Christie’s Impressionist and modern art auction in London.