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Madrid Art Thieves Tried to Sell Multimillion-Dollar Stolen Sculpture for Scrap

Madrid Art Thieves Tried to Sell Multimillion-Dollar Stolen Sculpture for Scrap

A steel Chillida sculpture in Berlin, Germany.


January 03, 2011

MADRID—Considering that a small sculpture by Eduardo Chillida fetched €1.5 million ($2 million) at Sotheby’s in 2006, three thieves’ asking price of €30 ($39) for one of the artist’s iron sculptures was certainly a bargain. This tip from a Madrid scrap merchant led police to recover 34 of 35 artworks stolen in a truck heist last month — a haul estimated at €5 million ($6.5 million) that also included pieces by Picasso and Botero.

On November 27, three men broke into a warehouse in Getafe, near Madrid, and drove off with a truck that was still loaded with artwork en route from an exhibition at the Stefan Röpke Gallery in Cologne, Germany. The thieves, who found the keys conveniently stowed in truck’s glove compartment, were caught on security cameras as they entered the vehicle. The artworks were discovered yesterday in a different truck parked in the nearby town of Leganés. Police have not yet made any arrests, the Guardian reports.

A government representative in Madrid, Amparo Valcarce, said that the works are in “good condition.” Only one piece was damaged when the glass over a picture was broken. Police did not publicly identify the one artwork that is still missing. The Spanish galleries that had loaned the art must be breathing a sigh of relief, especially since many of the pieces were not insured.

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