Dale Chihuly Artwork Thieves in Custody

Dale Chihuly, “Saffron Tower (2008) with Cattails and Niijima Floats (2014) at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Via: pennyparker.blacktie-colorado.com.

Formal charges have been filed against four people for the theft of Dale Chihuly sculptures displayed at the Denver Botanic Gardens last summer. As reported by local NBC affiliate 9 News, some of the stolen pieces of art were recovered in a nearby cornfield.

The accused are Alex Brook, 23; Joseph Parnell, 36; Sean Sorensen, 20; and Auvia Bellamy, 19. All four have been charged with felony theft. Brook and Parnell were charged with additional counts of criminal mischief and tampering with evidence.

The robbery occurred August 22, 2014, during what Brook described to 9 News on Facebook as a “blackout-drunk night.” Bored, goes the story, the four broke into the Botanic Gardens on a lark, without prior planning.

In an affidavit, Parnell describes having watched his accomplices enter the Botanic Gardens by scaling a fence, which he could not do because he was “290 pounds, drunk, and over-emotional.” He claims not to remember anything more of the incident, which saw three blown-glass cattails and a glass orb worth more than $100,000 removed from the exhibition of Chihuly’s work, according to the report.

It was only after the four criminals saw media reports about the thefts that they realized the magnitude of their actions. To avoid getting caught, Brook and Parnell dumped the sculptures in the cornfield, which had already been harvested for the season. The three glass spires were later destroyed by a corn combine harvester.

The foursome aren’t the only Colorado residents to commit art-related crimes after consuming a few too many adult beverages in recent months. The alluring latticework facade of the Aspen Art Museum has led to the arrest of at least three intrepid climbers, one of whom was inspired to scale the building after knocking back a few beers (see Judge Punishes Colorado’s Aspen Art Museum Climbers and Colorado Climbers Collared After Ascent of Aspen Art Museum).

As for the bored and tipsy Chihuly bandits, Brook claims that they have since tried to atone for their actions, and that they never planned to steal the sculptures. “Not to mention those things aren’t bolted down, like at all,” he added by way of defense.


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