Destroying "Art" for Fun and Profits

by Andrew Stergiou (12-18-2005)


Have you seen this missing two tonne pieces of scrap metal? Contact us if you have.

The purpose of this article of commentary is to raise the issue as to the value of art for that is not often enough discussed.

The headlines read "Police seek stolen 2-tonne Moore sculpture", but between the lines of that article was the real story concerning art, artists, the value of art and artists, in capitalist society.

The original article which sparked my interest as typically is my habit is included at the end of my commentary for your intellectual convenience and curiosity specifies that the UK "
Police fear thieves who hoisted a massive Henry Moore sculpture onto a flatbed lorry with a crane may try to sell the piece for scrap for a fraction of its real value -- about 3 million pounds.".


Amazingly the hardened UK police cajoled into doing their jobs by the prominence of the Moore sculpture, show good sense as to the assigned assessed value as they seem concerned over the matter based on the cash value of the art work, and exhibit some sort of sensitivity regarding what is loosely called "art". That those same police in their daily occurrence wouldn't give a second consideration if it entails perhaps a sketch pad in the underground that on a day to day basis they probably wouldn't think twice about especially if they were New York police for how many times in the middle of the night (since institution of the draconian tactics of Mayor Giuliani embraced by Bloomberg administration) did the police have sweep into the gutter what was being sold by street peddlers on the pretext that such items were "stolen goods"? May those alleged "stolen items" have been rare bibles, water colors, jewelry or what have you how many times did the police chase away those who they claimed were selling stolen property merely to use those claims as pretexts to sweep undesirable elements from the area?

For how do normal ("every day", "average") people place a value on "art" do they go to university for years, scholarly labor over dusty manuscripts to understand what distinguishes "good art" from "bad art" not generally though they could of course. Generally people recognize "art" in one of several ways or by a combination of one or more ways namely:

  1. when they notice, or attach a high monetary value and price placed on an art work or the art work or an artist
  2. they specifically find that artwork pleasant intriguing, entertaining, and are attracted in some way to it.

Other wise their attention is drawn to that artwork when someone they respect also admires or expresses admiration for that art work or artist otherwise that art work is not valued. In this expressed instance a criminal entrepreneur "capitalist" or "capitalists" aka members of the "lumpen" class found a value for "The two tonne, 3.5 metre long (11 ft 5.8 in) sculpture, "A Reclining Figure", was stolen from the Henry Moore" and stole that art work by use of a flat bed "lorry" (truck). As the police authorities used their keen sense of criminal understanding and thinking, they reasoned as that sculpture was made of "bronze" that the police were quoted as saying was valued according to the current scrap metal prices at "5,000 pounds" (currently $8,841 US Dollars) the thieves may sell that sculpture for scrap metal to be melted down rather than be sold for the open art market price quoted of 3 million pounds (5.30490 Million dollars US).

Those of us in the US can find this humorous since our nouveau riche neo-con capitalists, and the liberal US supreme court justices might agree with what the British police assessed as the motis operandi namely such art without apparent value beside that of its intrinsic value in that it was produced out of bronze would be liquidated as soon as possible as the circumstances would maybe warrant  melting down such a work, as were so many art works (e.g. the Old Penn Station, and the manuscripts of the Library of Alexandria were burned to heat the Roman baths under Christianity),  This is not the first time such a thing happened, nor will it be the last time. Just think of the thousands of dollars in damage a thief does to even a brand new automobile in order to steal its car radio from the dashboard  in New York City. The liberal justices even recognized it as an acceptable and typical business governmental practice when they said property under the principle of the public domain can be taken from its "owners" caretakers and put to any purpose for the public good if it could be more profitably used like that, which in this instance was thought to be MELTED DOWN FOR THE BRONZE AND SOLD AS SCRAP as could the work by Rodin in the Paris Metro, the art in the Moscow subways perhaps thought as better serving private interests when used at advertisements.

But then why not rent out the Whitehouse, the Senate, the Congress, Supreme Court, FBI, etc and all American institutions as hotel or bordellos?

As perhaps the guardians of capitalism would consider burning the wooden sculptures for heating as that can be considered profitable? Should some cop or even detective no any better not necessarily but should our capitalist pig bastard leaders certainly, but in this instancewhat is it that distinguished such cries that were raised regarding art works which were the properties of a well endowed institution, and those in the pssession of those who are poor in New York City? With all respect to Mr. Henry Moore who is said to be deceased will the real Henry Moore please stand up? As we would like a firm definition of what is art, and how that art should be regarded or respected.


Please stand up!!



Reuters Sunday December 18, 05:47 PM 


LONDON (Reuters) - Police fear thieves who hoisted a massive Henry Moore sculpture onto a flatbed lorry with a crane may try to sell the piece for scrap for a fraction of its real value -- about 3 million pounds.

The two tonne, 3.5 metre long (11 ft 5.8 in) sculpture, "A Reclining Figure", was stolen from the Henry Moore Foundation in Hertfordshire, on Thursday by three men, a theft recorded on CCTV.

Police said on Sunday they had recovered the lorry which they think was used to steal the sculpture but still needed more information from the public. "A member of the public reported seeing the lorry with the sculpture on the back ... on Thursday night," Detective Sergeant Graeme Smith said.

"We are appealing for members of the public who live in or travel through these areas to contact police if they saw this vehicle, or if they saw any suspicious activity in the area around that time."

The Foundation has offered a reward for the return of the work. If melted down, the bronze would be worth only about 5,000 pounds, police said.

"Our major concern at this time is the safe recovery of the sculpture," Detective Inspector Maurice McKirdy said in a statement.

"This is a national treasure and the Foundation is offering a far more substantial reward than any value the thieves might gather from disposing of the bronze as scrap metal."

A spokesman for the Foundation said staff were devastated by the loss and especially worried the piece could be destroyed.

"It's bizarre that someone would steal it to melt it down as it's probably not worth that much (melted down)," he said.

Moore, who died in 1986, was the most celebrated sculptor of his day, and was renowned for his large-scale, abstract work. He created "A Reclining Figure" in 1969/70, and the Foundation acquired it in 1987.


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