Artist robbed of his prize work

Daryl Georgiou must have thought his eyes were playing tricks on him when he discovered his prized work had been stolen from a West End art gallery just 20 minutes after being informed that he had scooped a prestigious award.

Mr Georgiou, 28, who lives in Birmingham, specialises in interactive art and optical illusions in pieces that commonly react to the viewer with light, sound or action. He had been announced as winner of the Constantinos Foundation award at the Hellenic Centre near Baker Street, London, last Tuesday.

But his joy was short-lived when the centre-piece of his collection was found missing. The work, entitled History, Memory, Legacy responds to heat from a viewer's face or hands to show the artist as either a boy in the foreground or an adult in the background.

Mr Georgiou, who first gained recognition at the Walsall Museum and Art Gallery, had six pieces on display at the Hellenic Centre and was in negotiation with a Greek collector over a five figure sum for the stolen piece.

"I'm obviously very upset," said Mr Georgiou. "It's ironic that the exhibit should be stolen while I was still celebrating ... It's also annoying that it was taken when I was so near to selling it."

Last night Mr Georgiou was back at the centre to receive the Constantinos Foundation award, backed by Ergo bank.

Stamors Fafalios, of the Intersections exhibition at the centre, of which Mr Georgiou's work was a part, said: "We obviously hope that the work will be returned. It is the first time that anything like this has happened since the centre opened two-and-a-half years ago."

A spokesman for Marylebone police said investigations were continuing.