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Four jail guards charged with Dali theft at Riker's

ArtsCanada

NEW YORK - Four jail guards could face prison terms after being charged in connection with the theft of a Salvador Dali sketch at Riker's Island.

Prosecutors allege the men staged a phony fire drill at the prison last March to steal the 1.2-by-1-metre sketch of Jesus Christ and replace it with a copy.

The four men surrendered to authorities Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to grand larceny. They were suspended without pay. If convicted, they each could face up to 15 years in prison.

Workers at the jail realized the Dali sketch was missing in March when they noticed the artwork looked much brighter and newer than the original.

The gold frame that held the 1965 sketch was also taken.

Dali donated the work after he got sick and had to cancel a scheduled visit to the men's jail.

The drawing also has a message from Dali reading: For the inmates dinning(sic) room on Rikers Island. Dali.

The artwork hung in the jail's dining room for 16 years but was moved to the heavily guarded lobby after inmates threw food at it.

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