Thief walks out of Paris gallery with Botero’s Maternity statue

Galerie Bartoux staff discovered €425,000 bronze missing at closing time

Fernando Botero's Maternity (2003) Botero

A bronze Fernando Botero sculpture, estimated to be worth €425,000, was stolen from Galerie Bartoux in an upmarket district of Paris earlier this month in broad daylight. Gallery staff became aware of the theft only when they prepared to close the gallery, on Rue du Faubourg St Honoré.

The Colombian artist’s 57cm-high sculpture, Maternity (2003), of a mother sitting on a plinth and cradling her baby, is the subject of a police investigation, a gallery assistant confirmed to The Art Newspaper.

A man was caught on CCTV entering the gallery at 7pm on 4 November and walking round to see if he was being watched; he picked up the 15kg sculpture and put it back down before finally making off with it, according to French media reports. No alarm was set off as the gallery does not have a security gate at the entrance. According to Le Figaro, several other galleries in Paris suffered thefts on the same day, which raises questions of how galleries can better safeguard against robberies.

Galerie Bartoux has 14 spaces worldwide, including London, Singapore, Courchevel and Cannes, and two in Paris—the other is located on Avenue des Champs-Elysées. The gallery is popular with tourists, selling works by blue-chip artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst.

The most expensive Botero sold at auction is the two-part sculpture Adam and Eve (1990), made of bronze with a dark brown patina, which fetched $2.57m at Christie’s New York in 2014.