Historic England (formerly English Heritage) has launched a campaign calling for the public to help them track down missing works of public art.

The campaign was launched 10 years to the day since the bronze Henry Moore statue ‘Reclining Figure’ (pictured) was stolen.

The statue, completed in 1969, is worth an estimated £3 million and was stolen from Henry Moore’s Foundation’s estate in December 2005. At three meters in length and two meters high, the brazenness of the theft sparked a global hunt for the culprits; but as of yet, none have been brought to justice.

Hence why Historic England have launched this campaign to find, or find out what happened to, not just to Henry Moore’s famous piece; but also the fates of other missing pieces of post-war (1945-85) public art. Works such as: ‘Two Forms (Divided Circle)’ By Barbra Hepworth which was stolen from Dulwich Park in London in 2011 and ‘The Pineapple’ by William Mitchell, which was last seen after being moved to storage in 2012.

Another facet of this campaign is to compile an extensive catalogue of all post-war outdoor art that still exists, to “ help us complete the picture of what’s still out there, and raise awareness of what we are at risk of losing forever.”

Chief executive of Historic England said: “Part of England’s national collection of public artworks is disappearing before our eyes. Historic England’s research is only the tip of the iceberg as it’s almost impossible to trace what has happened to every piece of public art since 1945.

“We’re making efforts to protect the best examples of post-war public art that still exist, and make sure that it continues to enhance the public realm.

“But we also want to raise awareness of just how vulnerable these works can be and we want the public to help us track down lost pieces.”

Sadly for Henry Moore’s statue, due to the recent rise in metal prices police and Historic England worry the magnificent statue has most likely already been melted down for scrap metal, worth about £1,500.

There is still a glimmer of hope, and that hope rests with the public. With their memories and photographs, Historic England hope to compile a full list of historic public art and maybe even recover some of what has been lost; so that we can protect it for generations to come; regardless of any changes in the price of metal.

A full list of the stolen, missing and destroyed works of art can be found on the Historic England website. Here’s hoping ‘Reclining Figure’ will become one of the first in the ‘found’ gallery.

View the list of missing works of art
Back to Henry Moore profile

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