From Salt Shaker to Salt Peter

posted by
Filed under: Fraud and Deception

What not to do:

cellinis-saltcellar-small200.jpg‘Gentleman burglar’ jailed for art theft
June 26, 2007

Vienna – A man charged with the theft of a priceless 500-year-old baroque Saliera salt-cellar was sentenced to five years imprisonment on Tuesday in Austria’s most spectacular art-theft.

Robert Mang, a 51-year-old “gentleman burglar” had stolen the gold and enamel sculpture by Benvenuto Cellini from Vienna’s Fine Arts Museum in May 2003.

A Vienna court had handed down a four-year sentence to Mang, who became an instant celebrity in Austrian media. But in September 2006, Austria’s Supreme Court ruled the trial had to be repeated due to formal reasons.

The court took into account that Mang had no previous criminal history as well his confession when coming to a relatively lenient sentence for breaking and entering, burglary and attempted blackmail, the head judge said.

The Viennese security expert always maintained he had broken into the museum and stolen the inadequately guarded sculpture as a prank while drunk after a night partying in Vienna’s clubs.

Scaffolding and steps outside leading to the first floor of the museum had made entering relatively easy apart from the inadequate security cameras and alarm systems.

Mang had hidden the salt-cellar, worth around €36-million (about R347-million) for two years, first under his bed and then buried in a forest. He sent several ransom notes to the museum’s insurance company, saying he would melt the unique artwork down, if he was not paid €10-million.

Mang was arrested in January 2006, after being caught on security cameras when buying a phone used for his blackmail attempts. The verdict is not final. – Sapa-DPA