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Catch Me If You Can: A Legal Art Heist?
January 6, 2012By: Christopher Roney

SubtleHere's a promotion that's got so much panache, it's making everyone in the industry stand up and take note.  The Art Series Hotels in Melbourne, The Blackman, The Cullen, and The Olsen, have been rotating two Banksy paintings, valued at a bounty of $20,000, around their hotels from Dec 15 through Jan 15.  And here's where the promotion gets cool:  They're inviting you to try to steal them without getting caught.  If you succeed, you get to keep the painting.

The first of the two Banksy paintings is "No Ball Games," one of only a few signed and authenticated Banksy works in Australia.  And it's already already fallen.  After failed attempts to hack the security cameras, place a listening device at the concierge desk, and simply to vault over the desk in plain sight of all the staff (this didn't go too well for the perpetrator), Maura Tuohy and Megan Aney pulled the heist off.

 The trick?  People listen to you if you act like you know what you're doing.  And that's just what they did.  Maura researched all of the names and brief bios of the marketing people in the hotel's PR firm and strode into the hotel in plain sight, claiming to be charged to move it to the next hotel.  

After a series of questions about her connections, which she passed with flying colors, they demanded to have her story verified.  That's when she had them call up her accomplice, who impersonating the manager, backed up her story.   The hotel staff even helped her load up the painting into her car.  Fifteen minutes later, she came back to let them know they'd let a $15,000 painting walk right out their front door, a la Frank Abagnale.

The second, "Pulp Fiction" is still up for grabs in a very literal sense, so pull on your balaclava, rent a mini-cooper, and wear down your sneakers because the next heist is going to have to be even trickier.  If you need a nearby staging area, make sure to check out some of the other top-notch luxury hotels in Melbourne.

Photos courtesy of Art Series Hotels site and Twitter


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