Thief Strolls Out Of Paris Gallery With $650K Bronze Statue By Fernando Botero

Thief Strolls Out Of Paris Gallery With $650K Bronze Statue By Fernando Botero

Paris is not just the city of love — it’s also infamous for a number of audacious, high-profile thefts.

In one such Hollywood-style heist, a thief grabbed a 22-inch bronze statue, put it under his arm, and strolled out of a Paris gallery in broad daylight, it emerged today.

The statue, called “Maternity”, is one of Colombian artist Fernando Botero's most famous works. The artwork could fetch about $650,000 on the black market.

“Maternity” portrays a mother and a baby, and was produced to huge acclaim by Botero in 2003. The 85-year-old artist, who now lives in Paris, was trained as a bullfighter but later followed his heart and became Colombia's most famous living artist.

The French capital has been hit by a long string of reckless heists in the recent years, and the authorities are tired of pledging to improve security at every gallery across the city.

Bartoux, like most of the galleries in the world, don’t have metal detectors or searches of any kind at the exits, and none of the on-duty security guards noticed Saturday's theft. It was discovered when the guards were examining video films and saw a man scouting the room in which the statue was displayed.

“He walked around a few times, looked around, and then helped himself to the Botero,” a source close to the case told DailyMail. “He then calmly made his way out of the building.”

“Everything is being done to find him,” the source added.

The thief, however, will find it hard to keep out of sight and face “huge difficulty” if he tries to sell the 15-kilo statue.

Paris police later revealed that there were reports of similar heists across the city over the weekend.

Art heists are nothing new in Paris. In 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. In January of this year, a burglar known as Spider-Man was jailed in Paris for eight years over the theft of a Matisse, a Picasso, a Braque, a Léger and a Modigliani from the Musée d’Art Moderne.

The five artworks, worth more than $116m, were stolen in 2010 but are still missing.

Photo credit: Creative Commons