Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Are sculptures being stolen for scrap metal?

Posted on Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Alas, another bird snatched. 

Last weekend, the Coeur d'Alene Press reported that thieves absconded with a heron sculpture in Coeur d'Alene. The pillage comes just weeks after "Omay," a Pelican sculpture disappeared from Novato, Calif.

Both statues are made of bronze, which is a mixture of copper and other metals. 

Are area sculptures really being stolen for scrap? It's been hinted at by Coeur d'Alene artist David Clemons, creator of "Omay," pictured at right.

"It seems obvious that this act was not about stealing art but about stealing materials that can be melted down and sold," Clemons writes. "The perpetrators chose to cut the feet off of the statue with a tool that would complete the theft of the bulk of the bronze quickly rather than steal the art entirely intact." 

"I understand that the price of metal is climbing at a rate that far outshines the stock market and if the statue is melted down and sold for raw materials it could bring an influx of cash into a desperate situation. But these are desperate times for all of us."

A member of the Novato Police Department told local media out there that copper is currently selling for about $9 per pound. Bleeding the copper out of a 700-pound statue, then, could bring home lots of dough.

The second statue, "The Great Blue Heron" by Spokane artist Rick Davis probably weighed about 40 pounds, according to news reports. (We shot Davis an email yesterday and have yet to hear back.) 

Will we see more thefts like this? After all, you can steal a Picasso from a snooty museum and keep it in your basement for eternity. Go down there and stare at it by candlelight. Show it to your significant other. Of course, you'll have to then kill them.

Or you can steal sculptures by local artists and sell them for scrap metal. Money in the pocket pays for beer down the gullet or baby formula for your hungry kid.

Nope, I'm not buying the hungry kid bit, either.

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