Thursday 12 January 2012

Two Forms (Divided Circle): Permanently Separated by Scrap Metal Theft

Two Forms (Divided Circle) in its original glory 
One of the more dramatic art stories to hit the news at the end of last year was the theft of Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture, Two Forms (Divided Circle), from Dulwich Park in South London.

This bronze sculpture, one of six casts, had stood in the park for more than 40 years. It weathered the seasons and successfully evaded graffiti artists only to mysteriously vanish overnight following an apparently well co-ordinated theft from the park.

The theft was not a traditional art heist but for the purpose of the sculpture's resale value as scrap metal. Indeed, the general media consensus is that it has most likely already been melted down.

Post theft orange tape
Art Theft Central has been regularly reporting on the dangers of scrap metal theft, which has targeted everything from copper railway cables to sculptures including war memorials. Rising prices for copper, lead and bronze coupled with relatively loose regulation of the scrap metal industry have contributed to a nationwide increase in metal theft. By way of example, according to the BBC, last year there were more than 2,500 claims for the theft of metal from churches.

According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, metal theft is estimated to cost the UK economy £770m every year.

There is currently a private member’s bill in the House of Commons (second reading on 20 January 2012). This includes the key requirement that financial transactions be limited to non-cash (traceable) payments. You can track the bill’s progress through Parliament here.

Source: The Guardian

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