Thief Steals Three Ai Weiwei Sculptures in Hamburg

Each one was valued at $10,000

Ai Weiwei
Chinese artist and dissident activist Ai Weiwei stands inside "Pequi Tree," a 32 meters sculpture molded from a 1200 year old Brazilian tree.
Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

Some art heists involve careful planning and meticulous execution. Some, like the theft of several paintings from the Gardener Museum in Boston, are still speculated about and remain unsolved. And then there’s the opposite approach — essentially just walking into a gallery, taking whatever strikes your fancy, and making your exit.

That might sound way too easy, but it’s basically what happened to a trio of sculptures by acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei that were on display in a Hamburg gallery.

An article at ARTnews has more details. The sculptures were made from glass, and in the image of the artist’s hand — including at least one with the middle finger upraised. The gallery, Lumas Galerie, had priced each of them at around $10,000.

The sculptures riff on Ai Weiwei’s well-known series of photographs, Study of Perspective, in which he can be seen flipping off different locations around the world.

As for how no one noticed someone making off with three sculptures, that remains something of a mystery. The ARTnews article suggests that the gallery’s alarm system failed to work correctly, and the staff wasn’t notified. Hamburg police are now looking into it, and have set up a tip line for anyone who might have more information on the theft.

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