An artwork worth $10,000 was taken from the front yard of a Perth home because it was mistaken for part of a verge collection.
The 400-kilogram Moondyne Joe sculpture – named after a famous WA bushranger – was taken from the front yard of artist Len Zuks’ Hamilton Hill house a week ago.
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It’s believed the perpetrators thought the artwork was being left out for collection by the local council.
Now, the two-metre-high scrap metal sculpture is back in its rightful place – and this time it’s been stationed in a slightly safer area underneath the artist’s patio.
Neighbours said they saw five men load it onto a trailer last Monday afternoon.
The removal was so brazen and casual, taking about 20 minutes to complete, that neighbours thought the artist must have arranged its collection.
After seeing 7NEWS coverage of the theft, the people responsible realised their mistake.
They made an anonymous call to the 7NEWS Perth newsroom, saying they thought the item was left out on the verge to be taken for free, and would return the sculpture.
And so they did – under the cover of darkness on Saturday evening.
But who was responsible for taking it remains a mystery.
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The artist is just happy that his sculpture has been returned in time for an exhibition in February.
But he says he can’t believe anyone would have mistaken it for trash.
“It’s like your chest immediately becomes empty,” Mr Zuks’ said after discovering his artwork was gone.
There has been a spate of sculpture and artwork thefts in Perth over the past five years.
In October, artist Greg James’ sculpture Bella was stolen from a bench at Bathers Beach in Fremantle – the same place where Mr Zuks plans to exhibit Moondye Joe in February.
Police have laid charges in relation to the theft, but Bella has never been found.