Stolen Sculpture Found in Toilet of Paris Museum

Another strange and shoddy art theft shakes up a large European museum.

Yet another strange and shoddy art theft has shaken up a large European museum. Le Monde reports that on Saturday, around 4:30 pm, a security guard at Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs gave the alert of the disappearance of a Jean de Boulogne bronze sculpture. The work depicts Samson and the Philistines and is valued between €300,000–400,000.

The museum closed its doors immediately and visitors where ushered towards the exit, where they were thoroughly searched. No one was found carrying the five-kilogram (11 pound) Mannierist sculpture, made by the Flemish-born, Florence-based artist also known as Giambologna, a highly respected sculptor active during the last quarter of the 16th century.

In a surprising turn of events, the sculpture was found that same evening in a most unlikely place: inside a trash can in the museum’s public toilets. The location suggests that the thief got cold feet after seeing the prompt security intervention and abandoned the statue before being searched.

The museum, located in the Louvre Palace, has a CCTV system installed across its galleries. Members of the French Vandalism Repression Brigade are currently in the process of reviewing the footage to identify the perpetrator. No arrests have been made so far.

The case seems uncannily similar to the theft and subsequent re-appearance of a rare Medardo Rosso bust, which took place in Rome’s Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna last month (see “Rare Masterpiece Stolen from Rome Museum”).

The Rosso theft also took place in broad daylight, while the museum was open to the public, and was promptly followed by a general search of the premises, which yielded no results. But the Rosso bust was found three days later inside the museum, hidden in a storage locker for public use, located near the entrance (see “Stolen Medardo Rosso Masterpiece Found in Museum Locker”).

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