Bather found in bushes on Furby Street

Bather found in bushes on Furby Street

Leo Mol sculpture stolen days earlier from garden

By: Sandy Klowak

2/07/2010 1:00 AM

The sculpture stolen from the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Assiniboine Park earlier this week was recovered by police on Thursday morning.

The Bather, a 44-inch bronze sculpture by renowned Winnipeg artist Leo Mol, was spotted in bushes by residents on Furby Street around 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Police collected the work of art, which was stolen from the Assiniboine Park late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

“We’re very pleased to get it back,” said Lorne Perrin, vice-president of marketing and park services at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

“It’s a valuable piece of the (Mol) collection.”

Perrin said other than damage to the base of the statue when it was ripped off its base, The Bather is in decent shape.

“It’s got some scratches on the shoulder from where they dragged it,” Perrin said.

He couldn’t speculate on when the statue, along with another sculpture, Marijka, that was toppled over and slightly damaged during the theft, will be back up for display.

The repair time will depend on how long it takes to find an artist who can work with the specific bronze metal the statues are made from. “You just can’t take it in to any old welder,” he said.

Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said the sculpture was stolen sometime between 10 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday.

“The (garden security) gates close at 10 p.m. and when staff returned the next morning they noticed it was gone,” Michalyshen said.

The sculpture weighs about 68 kilograms.

The garden was created in 1992 when Mol donated many of his works to the City of Winnipeg, to be housed in an outdoor venue at Assiniboine Park.

Perrin said about 40 Mol pieces are housed in the garden.

The Bather was last appraised at $18,000, he said, but added its value has likely increased since Mol’s death a year ago. The Bather is one of several bronze sculptures in the garden that depict unclothed teenage girls in various poses.

The two sculptures were mounted on a granite base.

Michalyshen said there is no indication any tools were used to remove the sculpture, adding The Bather appeared ripped from its base.

Michalyshen, who spoke to the Free Press before the statue was recovered, said the stolen artwork is an important piece of the city’s heritage.

“This goes beyond the act of property damage, it’s disrespect,” Michalyshen said. “It’s disrespect and we hate to see it.” Michalyshen said it’s not known if the theft was a targeted heist or the work of inexperienced vandals.

But the man who helped create the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden said he believes it was “just kids doing what they do” who stole the sculpture.

Art dealer David Loch said the circumstances surrounding the theft don’t indicate the work of thieves who appreciated the value of their theft.

Loch said Mol’s works are in high demand around the world but added no profit could have been made from the stolen statue. Stolen art of value is recorded on a central registry in London, Loch said, adding the publicity surrounding this theft ensures it can’t be resold.

Loch said he believes kids were responsible for the theft, adding they only took one of two Mol pieces that were knocked off the granite base.

“If they were trying to steal Leo’s work, why not take both pieces… why leave one behind?” Loch said. “If they were trying to steal it to re-sell it, they can’t because stolen art is of no use. You really can’t sell it.”

Perrin said the Conservancy will be doing a review of security around the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in the wake of the theft, which may result in increased security measures.

With files from Gabrielle Giroday and Aldo Santin

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 2, 2010 A5

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