Anselm Kiefer’s Workshop Robbed for Raw Materials Again

The stolen metal is much less valuable than the dismantled artwork.

Anselm Kiefer, The High Priestess/Zweistromland, (1985-1989). A similar sculpture has been destroyed by thieves looking for scrap metal. Courtesy Astrup Fearnly Museet

The Croissy-Beaubourg workshop of celebrated German artist Anselm Kiefer was burglarized on Saturday 27 August, according to Le Monde.

Four thieves were reportedly interrupted dismantling a giant sculpture of books made out of 10 tons of lead and 12 tons of marble that stood in a metal cage locked in the inner courtyard of the warehouse. A security guard disturbed the burglars taking the sculpture apart but was unable to apprehend them before they made off with the valuable loot.

Enormous books are typical of Kiefer’s oeuvre, as the artist is often inspired by poetry, philosophy, and history. The Noisiel police station in charge of the investigation has estimated the value of the sculpture at €1.3 million ($1.4 million) although the total value of the stolen materials is much lower: raw lead is only worth about €1670 ($1860) per ton.

Two women were arrested on Sunday afternoon trying to get through the broken fence with a cart filled with leftover pieces of metal abandoned during their flight and not yet recuperated by employees due to their weight.

This is not the first time Anselm Kiefer has been relieved of his work for reasons other than artistic merit.

In January of 2008, several dozen lead books weighing a whopping 7.5 tons were stolen from his previous workshop in Barjac before being discovered a few days later in the possession of scrap metal collectors in Drôme and Ardèche.

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