ST. PETERSBURG, Fla (WFLA) — A guilty conscience may have gotten the best of a thief in St. Petersburg. A stolen Venetian glass Dale Chihuly sculpture was mysteriously returned Tuesday morning in a box outside of the Morean Arts Center, about a mile away from where it was stolen from.
“The only way that you could sell something like that would have been to a private collector. You couldn’t just put something like that on eBay,” Rick Shaw of the St. Petersburg Police Department said about the piece taken from the Chihuly Collection.
“The piece was placed … right in front of the front door so we were lucky that no one just walked by and took it,” Shaw said.
“I was in tears. I was so happy to have it returned,” said Andy Schlauch, the executive director of the gallery.
The piece, called “Cobalt and Lavender Piccolo,” was gone from its home for fewer than 48 hours, but getting the piece back may have been the easy part of this case for police.
Detectives are now tasked with reviewing more than 24 hours of surveillance video from the 28 security cameras rolling at the gallery to track down the brazen art thief, who faces felony grand theft charges. The piece is 8” x 6” x 6” and is valued between $20,000 and $25,000.
Those at the gallery are happy to have the priceless piece of glasswork back.
“It’s a vital part, no matter how small it is. It’s a piece of this puzzle we have here of community outreach, education and inspiration,” Schlauch said.
If you have information about the theft, text SPPD + your tip to TIP411, or call our non-emergency line at (727) 893-7780.