Salvador Dalí’s “Burning Giraffe” etching was stolen from Dennis Rae Fine Art (courtesy of Dennis Rae Fine Art)

How many seconds are needed to pull a heist in the art world? Thirty-two, apparently. An audacious thief on Sunday managed to snatch a Salvador Dalí etching off an easel at a San Francisco art gallery. The act, according to local reports, was captured on Dennis Rae Fine Art’s surveillance footage.

The work, “Burning Giraffe” (1966-7), measures 20 by 26 inches — priced at $20,000 — and was reportedly inspired by the etchings of Pablo Picasso.

“They just popped into the gallery, probably distracting one of my coworkers,” gallery director Angela Kellett told ABC7 News. Kellett added: “It was our showcase item.”

“We have a special Salvador Dalí show right now, and yeah, they just ran off with it, too quick for anyone to do anything about it.”

On the surveillance tape, the culprit is seen with a woman, likely his accomplice. (The unidentified female did not enter the gallery, but escorted the man across the street after he exited Dennis Rae).

Ordinarily, the etching would have been fastened to its easel. But in this case, the usual lock and cable were inexplicably missing.

So will unsuspecting collectors eventually start bidding on the print, eBay-style? Not according to Kellett.

“I think that people would know. It’s a very small edition of etchings, so the number, we know exactly what piece it is, so now it’s a very hot item,” she told ABC7.

As of Tuesday, October 15, the thief — who was wearing a blue t-shirt and baseball cap at the time of his crime — is still at large.

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Kate Gill

Kate Gill is a writer, editor, and filmmaker based in Brooklyn.