A life-size, 400-pound [181-kilo] statue by Icelandic artist Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir was reported stolen from the U.S. city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana this week, but happily, was recovered from a nearby parking lot a day later, The Advocate reports. The sculpture—worth $60,000 [ISK 6,540,000; €52,527]—was one of 22 aluminum and iron human figures that comprise Steinunn’s traveling installation “Borders,” and was discovered to be missing when workers began transporting the figures to their next destination, the Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana.
According to The Advocate, “Renee Chatelain, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, said organizers were hoping the statue had been misplaced or relocated for routine levee maintenance,” but a fruitless, month-long search left no doubt that the sculpture had been stolen. The statue was bolted to a levee-side bench, which was then in turn bolted to a bike path. Chatelain noted that the thieves would have needed tools and a vehicle to remove it.
“The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge would like to thank the Baton Rouge community, all media outlets, Baton Rouge Police Department, and Crime Stoppers for their efforts in putting the word out that this iron sculpture is missing,” wrote the organization in a Facebook post on Thursday. “We have faith that as a community we can come together and locate this missing piece of art.” Remarkably, the public appeal yielded almost immediate results: the statue was found in a downtown parking lot not far from its original location, covered in dirt or spray paint but otherwise undamaged. An employee of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge and two police officers hoisted it into the back of a truck; it will be soon be transported to Shreveport, LA along with the four remaining “Borders” statues still in Baton Rouge.
RÚV points out that this isn’t the first time that Steinunn’s traveling sculptures have been subjected to vandalism or theft. “Four years ago, a 13-year-old boy was charged with vandalizing the statues while they were on display in Grant Park, Chicago,” while another of her works, “…dedicated to British seamen killed off the Icelandic coast, was stolen while on display in Hull, UK.”
Steinunn describes “Borders” as a work which promotes unity. As she explained to The Advocate, the figures in the installation were “…modeled after her youngest son and their arrangement aimed to encourage interaction from the public to bridge the gap — or fill the space — between the paired statues, furthering the idea that people can look different but still have fundamental similarities.”