August 3, 2011

Thieves try to steal abstract sculpture

ART HISTORY - Three "dumb thieves" tried to steal an $1-million sculpture by famed Canadian abstract artist Jean-Paul Riopelle ended up ditching the pricey sculpture in the Quebec woods. The sculpture was found, broken but fixable.

Art experts say the thieves probably hoped to sell the one-of-a-kind bronze sculpture for scrap metal, which would have netted them as little as a few hundred dollars.

The sculpture, titled "La Défaite", had been sitting for 40 years outside the studio and home of the late artist in the Laurentians town of Estérel, north of Montreal. The massive sculpture weighs about a thousand pounds and over 6 feet tall.

A groundskeeper noticed on Monday that one of the pieces had been toppled. When a security guard showed up to check the grounds, he surprised the thieves at work.

One of the thieves fled into the woods, while two others drove away in a white van.

The thieves didn’t get far. News of the theft quickly spread via Twitter and in the news media, and Quebec police found the empty van Tuesday. A few hours later, they found the sculpture in the woods about two km from the Riopelle property.

The sculpture was found broken into 4 pieces to make them easier to carry.

“These guys were imbeciles. They were certainly not professionals,” said Simon Blais, an abstract art gallery owner and Riopelle expert in Montreal. He said it would have been close to impossible to unload an artwork of that bulk and weight. “You can’t smuggle it. You can’t put it on a plane.”

The loss of the 1963 sculpture would have been a tragedy. Riopelle, known chiefly for his abstract mosaic canvasses painted with a palette knife, also produced sculptures in the 1960s. Adding to its value was the fact that it was a single cast and came from his early sculpture works. It was purely one of a kind.

“This is a major work of art of an iconic Canadian painter and sculptor of the 20th century,” says Simon Blais. “It’s a part of Canada’s heritage. Imagine losing it because some dumb thieves hoped they might get a few hundred dollars in scrap metal. It would have been tragic.”

It wouldn't be the first time.

A two-tonne bronze sculpture by Henry Moore worth £3-million was stolen from the estate of the Henry Moore Foundation in England in 2005, and police believe it was melted down and sold for about £1,500.

The thieves in the Laurentians didn’t realize what they’d put their hands on – and didn’t appreciate that the odd-shaped, highly abstract piece of art sitting outside a rustic waterfront home was the work of a man whose canvasses hang in the most famous museums of the world.

Montreal-born Jean-Paul Riopelle, who died at 78 in 2002, was an abstract art master and one of Canada’s most internationally celebrated painters.

“I think the thieves didn’t realize the gravity of what they’d done,” says Jean-Paul Riopelle’s widow, Huguette Vachon. “Once they saw all the publicity, they realized their mistake and panicked.”

The damaged sculpture will be appraised, restored and then eventually displayed again in a safer place.

The three thieves are still at large.

See Also
Canadian Art

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments containing links will be marked as spam and not approved. We moderate every comment. If you want to advertise on this blog it is $30 per link.

Affordable Website Design & SEO

Looking for a quality professional website designer? Why not go where the smart money is?! Toronto Website Design and Toronto SEO. Get free SEO advice from people who really know the business.

Featured Posts

The Sarcasm Symbol
Ever had some confusion online or with your cellphone when someone fails to catch the sarcasm? Well now with the SarcMark you can ge...
Behold, the Scorpion Hydrogen Supercar
CARS - To the right is the future of supercars... it is a hydrogen supercar called the Scorpion. The Scorpion from Ronn Motors in Texas is t...
Documents show Stephen Harper misusing public funds
CANADA - According to 950+ pages of documents obtained by the Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act the Privy Coun...
Pink's Rosie the Riveter
ENTERTAINMENT - What I like about this video is how it meshes different social movements like feminism, veganism, anti-capitalism...
California's Dustbowl
ENVIRONMENT - The photo on the right is a farm in California that has been put up for sale. Its just one of thousands of farms that are n...
Is Steampunk the New Goth???
GOTHIC - Watch out what you see on the subway late at night because while in 2001 you might have seen some pretty freakish goths, by 20...
Do you have enough Ice Water in your diet?
HEALTH - A Calorie (large C) is a measurement of the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a litre of water (1 kg's worth) ...
North Korean timeline towards Inevitable War
POLITICS - The following is timeline of events that have occurred on the Korean Peninsula. 1945 - Japan surrenders to the United States a...
Judgment Day is Tomorrow, so sayeth Cult
RELIGION - According to a cult based in California, Judgement Day is tomorrow (May 21st 2011) and Jesus Christ will return to the Earth a...
Sex in Space Forbidden
SEX/TECHNOLOGY - Sex in outer space is a big no-no according to NASA. Not for professional astronauts at least, but the growing numb...

Popular Posts