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Dutch masterpiece stolen from Australian art gallery

Image   Expert art thieves snatched a valuable 17th century Dutch masterpiece from under the noses of security guards and the public at Sydney's main art gallery, police said yesterday.
The painting by Dutch master Frans van Mieris, entitled A Cavalier (Self Portrait), is valued at 1.2 million US dollars.
"We believe that it was removed expertly from the gallery," police superintendent Simon Hardman told a news conference.
The small painting, measuring 30 centimetres by 26 centimetres including the lacquered timber frame, was stolen from the Art Gallery of New South Wales between 10.00 am and 12.30 pm on Sunday, while it was open to the public.

"Someone must know about the theft or may have been in the area at the time and noticed someone acting suspiciously," Hardman said, urging anyone with information to contact the police.
Security footage from the gallery was being reviewed but there were reportedly no cameras in the small room from where the painting was taken.
Gallery director Edmund Capon said the theft was not reported to police until Monday because staff had looked for the missing artwork in the gallery's storage facilities.
"I am deeply shocked. Well over a million people visit the gallery each year and this is a very rare occurrence, as security measures at the gallery are sound and proven," Capon said in a statement.
The painting, dating from 1657-1659, risked being damaged if it was not kept in a climate-controlled environment, Capon said.
Police said gallery staff had been interviewed and had not been ruled out of the investigation. Interpol had also been notified of the theft.