Art Market

Burglars in search of scrap metal damaged a massive Anselm Kiefer sculpture.

Wallace Ludel
Sep 12, 2019 4:08PM, via AFP

A metal and glass sculpture by Anselm Kiefer. Photo by Raphaël Labbé, via Flickr.

Thieves in search of scrap lead broke into Anselm Kiefer’s studio in Paris early Wednesday morning and damaged one of the German artist’s large sculptures. The two thieves were seemingly unaware of the value of the sculpture itself, aiming only to steal metal from it before hypothetically reselling it as scrap. At roughly 1:30 a.m., a security guard was able to scare the thieves away, though they had already cut through the fence and removed parts of the sculpture. Police told the AFP: “These thieves did not realize the value of the work. [. . .] They were mainly after the lead, which is valuable, especially in this form.”

This isn’t the first time Kiefer’s studio or warehouse has been broken into by those on the hunt for raw material. In 2016, four thieves successfully evaded a security guard and made off with 12 tons of raw marble, valued at the time at roughly €1 million ($1.1 million), as well as a 10-ton lead sculpture, then valued at €1.3 million ($1.5 million)—though, according to Le Parisien, that amount of lead sold as raw was only worth €1,670 (about $1,860) per ton, or €16,700 (about $18,600) for the whole lot. Later that day, two women were arrested when they also snuck in hoping to make away with the scraps that the initial burglars dropped.

Finally, in 2008, 7.5 tons of lead sculptures were stolen from Kiefer’s studio in Barjac, only to be discovered a few days later at a scrap metal yard. In every instance, burglars were seemingly unaware of the artworks’ value.

Further Reading: Anselm Kiefer on the Existential Crisis Facing Humanity

Further Reading: How Anselm Kiefer Borrowed Rodin’s Arms and Legs to Make New Sculptures

Wallace Ludel
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