Bold Thief Walks Out of London Gallery With Elisabeth Frink Statue Hidden in a Newspaper

Elisabeth Frink, Horizontal Birdman 1 (1962). Photo: courtesy Beaux Arts, London.

A London art gallery has been the victim of a bold art heist, as a man walked off with a rare, early Elisabeth Frink statue worth £40,000 (about $63,000) hidden in a newspaper.

The 1962 sculpture, Horizontal Birdman 1, is the tenth and final copy of the bronze artwork. A man was browsing at Beaux Arts in Mayfair on June 26 when he quietly stole the statue. Details concerning the heist were released this week.

The piece “was on a high shelf, so we rather assumed it was safe, and there was someone in the room the whole time,” noted gallery co-owner Patricia Singh in speaking with the BBC. “It’s to my intense chagrin, we should be more vigilant, but you learn.”

A security camera capture the thief. Photo: courtesy Beaux Arts, London.

A security camera capture the thief.
Photo: courtesy Beaux Arts, London.

Unfortunately, Beaux Arts isn’t the only institution to fall victim to a daytime robbery recently: thieves absconded with three paintings from Milan’s Sforza Castle one afternoon last August, while a would-be robber with a similarly brazen approach was foiled by a gallery in Birmingham, UK, in September.

The thief was captured by the gallery’s surveillance cameras. During the robbery, he wore a dark suit with a light blue shirt and was carried a black sports bag.

“It appears the suspect has specifically targeted this piece and picked his moment,” detective constable Kevin Eade said in a statement. “He took his time first browsing around the art gallery and speaking with the manager before stealing the statue.”

Beaux Arts, London. Photo: Beaux Arts, London.

Beaux Arts, London.
Photo: Beaux Arts, London.

The statue is registered property, so any attempt to resell it through legitimate avenues should quickly reveal that it was stolen.

The police are asking anyone with information about the suspect to come forward.

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