Five bronze busts of eminent figures of the arts, politics and letters have been wrenched off their marble pedestals and stolen in two operations in the Writers’ Park of the Athens Cultural Center, bringing the total of looted statues in the open-air gallery to eight.
According to sources, the five busts were removed overnight on May 25 and 26 by unknown assailants using equipment that allowed them to saw off the heavy busts from their stands and make off with the recently restored artworks undetected.
In 2013, the busts of Domenikos Theotokopoulos, Nikos Kazantzakis and Antonis Tritsis were stolen from the same location and have never been found. It is believed they have been sold for scrap and melted down, fetching around 100-120 euros per bust.
“I have been very upset and extremely troubled since I heard of what happened,” sculptor Praxitelis Tzanoulinos, who crafted the stolen busts of Kostas Ouranis, Costis Bastias and Dimitris Horn, and worked on the restoration project, told Kathimerini.
“It despairs to me to think of the love, attention and dedication I put into those pieces just so have them end up as scrap at a foundry,” Tzanoulinos said. “For an artist, this is rape.”
Athens School of Fine Arts Professor Theodoros Papagiannis, who sculpted the stolen busts of Yiorgos Theotokas and Angelos Terzakis, also expressed his frustration over the incident.
“We are living in age of barbarism. What happened in the heart of Athens, for the umpteenth time, is proof that we are a broken country where nothing is protected. As a teacher and an artist, I am ashamed.”