A surveillance camera captured these images of the thief in the gallery. Image used with expressed permission of Venus Over Manhattan gallery.

Greek man pleads guilty to stealing Dali painting

A surveillance camera captured these images of the thief in the gallery. Image used with expressed permission of Venus Over Manhattan gallery.

A surveillance camera captured these images of the thief in the gallery. Image used with expressed permission of Venus Over Manhattan gallery.

NEW YORK (AP) – A Greek man has admitted to stealing a Salvador Dali painting from a New York City gallery, only to return it in the mail.

Phivos Istavrioglou pleaded guilty on Tuesday following his arrest in the theft of a work titled Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges a week earlier.

Prosecutors say the fashion industry publicist walked into the Manhattan gallery in June, put the painting valued at about $150,000 in a shopping bag and walked out. He anonymously mailed the piece back to the United States from Greece after seeing news coverage of the theft.

Istavrioglou can avoid additional jail time if he remains incarcerated until his formal sentencing on March 12. He also must pay more than $9,000 in restitution.

His lawyer said it was a stupid thing to do.

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AP-WF-02-27-13 0419GMT