The Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) has again been the target of thieves with the theft of three valuable bronze artworks on Sunday 25 September 2011. The stolen works are King of the Universe by Ernest Ullman, Mourning Women by Sydney Kumalo and Peter Pan by Romano Romanelli.
Staff at the gallery discovered the break in to the storeroom of the JAG on Sunday and after a quick inventory it became evident that three bronze sculptures had been stolen. Two other bronze sculptures were found on the floor, wrapped and ready to be moved.
The police were called and a suspect has been apprehended. Further investigation by the SAPS Department of Endangered Species - yes, really - is currently underway. Experts in the field have been consulted and are working together towards the recovery of the sculptures. The JAG appeals to the public to be on the lookout for the artworks, which may turn up in scrap yards, pawnshops and even the black market.
In January 2011 a rare Jules Dalou sculpture was also stolen from the gallery, and has still not been recovered. Investigations regarding this sculpture have since been closed due to lack of evidence.
The security was increased following the January theft, however another upgrade would cost about R1.5 million, money that the gallery doesn’t have, according to Antoinette Murdoch, chief curator of JAG. “The works owned by the JAG do not only belong to the gallery, but to the public and are, as such, public treasures. We implore [the public] to assist us in protecting and preserving our invaluable heritage.”
Members of the public can contact the gallery with any further information regarding the stolen artworks or donations towards an ugraded security system on +27 11 725 3130.