Iron statue in traveling installation missing from downtown Baton Rouge levee; help needed

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A $60,000, 400-pound statue

A $60,000, 400-pound statue that adorned a bench on the Mississippi River levee in Baton Rouge — part of a 22-sculpture visiting exhibit by an Icelandic artist intended to celebrate unity — is missing.

Authorities are asking for the public’s help in locating the iron statue that was discovered missing in July when workers began removing the pieces and transporting them to  

The statues are aluminum and iron androgynous human forms that were situated in pairs along the levee, some sitting on benches and others standing or kneeling at various locations. The temporary public art installation called “Borders” was created by Icelandic artist Steinunn Thorarinsdottir and arrived in Baton Rouge last year.

The installation was first seen outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City and has since traveled to other cities including Dallas, Seattle and Chicago. 

Renee Chatelain, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, said the statue was discovered missing last month when workers began removing the pieces and transporting them to their next home: the Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College in Shreveport. Chatelain said each of the 22 sculptures in the installation are worth about $60,000 apiece. 

She said organizers were hoping the statue had been misplaced or relocated for routine levee maintenance, but after a month of searching they have concluded it was stolen. 

Baton Rouge police said investigators believe the theft occurred sometime in March or April. 

The statue weighs more than 400 pounds. It was bolted to a bench, which was in turn bolted to the bike path, Chatelain said. The thieves would have needed tools and a vehicle to remove it. 

The sculptor visited Baton Rouge in March 2017 when the pieces were installed and was honored at a reception hosted by the Arts Council. She told The Advocate then that the figures were modeled after her youngest son and their arrangement aims to encourage interaction from the public to bridge the gap — or fill the space — between the paired statues, furthering the idea that people can look different but still have fundamental similarities. 

Thorarinsdottir said via email Thursday from Iceland that she hopes the public can help recover her sculpture. 

Chatelain said the installation was meant to send a message of unity. 

“Now it’s up to us to come together and find this sculpture,” she said. “Other cities have public art and it’s such a beautiful statement of who we are as a culture. … There are too many good people in Baton Rouge who want to see this happen. I’m hopeful at this point.”

Baton Rouge police are asking anyone with information about the missing statue to contact Crime Stoppers by calling (225) 344-7867, texting CS225 to 274637, submitting a tip via Facebook or visiting their website www.crimestoppersbr.com, according to a post Thursday afternoon on the Greater Baton Rouge Crime Stoppers Facebook page.

Tipsters can remain anonymous and could be eligible for a case reward.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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