Clues Emerge in the Theft of a Nikola Tesla Bust From a Cleveland Museum

The sculpture was found in an online auction listing.

A bust of Nikola Tesla by Matthew Rebrovic. Photo:

New clues have emerged in the theft of a Nikola Tesla sculpture, stolen from Cleveland’s Serbian Cultural Garden in 2014.

The bronze bust was given by hobbyist sculptor Matthew Rebrovic to the cultural garden before it opened in 2008. It was discovered missing in August 2014 by the son of the museum’s founder, Alex Machaskee, who was doing maintenance in the garden and reported it to police.

But the location of the missing bust has eluded authorities in the years since it was stolen. Now, Lou Rebrovic, the son of the sculptor, is hot on its trail after stumbling on a break in the case, according to a report by The Plain Dealer and its sister publication

Rebrovic was searching his family name online over the weekend to contact distant relatives when he came across a listing on, a website that allows galleries to list items for sale. The listing has since been deleted but a photo of the bust can still be seen on another page of the site.

Screenshots of the listen taken by the newspaper show that it advertised the bust as signed by “M.L. Rebrovic” and posted by Premier Auction Galleries, a business in the Cleveland exurb of Chesterland.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s dad’s statue,’” Rebrovic said.

He said he and his wife spent days trying to get in touch with both LiveAuctioneers and the gallery, as well as police, about the listing. The news report noted that Premier Auction Galleries, which specializes in estate liquidations, previously faced another lawsuit that was settled out of court.

Matthew Rebrovic died less than a month before his Nikola Tesla sculpture went missing and Lou Rebrovic said he and his sister joked that their father had taken it with him to the grave. A replacement statue of Tesla was later commissioned and has been displayed in its stead since 2017.

The report noted the irony of the listing not identifying Tesla by name, calling the work simply the “bronze bust of a gentleman.” Tesla pioneered the use of electricity and contributed to the development of other advances that are now common in daily life, from X-rays to lasers, but was outflanked by rival Thomas Edison and died penniless in obscurity.

According to the newspaper, the bust received only a single bid of $50 before the listing was removed.

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