The 50-year-old stole six bronze sculptures over the past five years, worth a total of €52,000. His motive was a love of art – he didn't sell them but put them on display in his flat.
On Easter Monday the man was on day release from prison and went to an art fair in the Salzburg Residenz Palace. Whilst he was there he stole a sculpture worth €8,000 from an Upper Austrian art dealer.
Police were able to identify the thief from surveillance camera footage from the art fair – and realised he had a criminal record.
When the man was questioned he confessed to having stolen the sculpture and showed police the rest of his collection.
None of the sculptures have been damaged, and they will be returned to their owners. The man said he had taken them because he “has a great interest in art, architecture, and interior design”.
His method for stealing the art was always the same – when he wasn’t being watched he would cover the sculpture with his jacket, and then pick it up and put it under his arm, before taking it back to his apartment where he displayed it on a special stone base he had made for the purpose.
He has been serving his current prison sentence since November 2013 and will now be tried for commercial fraud. His right to day release has been revoked.