It has been reported that two works of art by Andy Warhol and one from Otto Piene have been stolen from a vehicle belonging to Nürnberg’s Galerie Hafenrich. The works were two Warhol prints; one depicting Cologne Cathedral, the other of former German football player Toni Schumacher; as well as the Otto Piene print ‘Growth’. The works were valued at a total of €100,000 (£74,000).
Apparently the gallery’s director Jens Hafenrichter loaded the artworks into the vehicle on the evening of the 15th December to deliver them to an exhibition in Düsseldorf on the 17th. However when Hafenrichter opened the boot to get out a CD to listen to on the journey, he noticed the aforementioned artworks were gone.
There were seven artworks in total in the back of the vehicle, however only three were stolen. The thieves left behind three polaroids by Warhol and an unframed canvas by Mr Brain.
In a conversation with artnet the gallery’s representative Claudia Eidner confided that judging from that the precision with which the artworks were stolen (there were no visible signs of a break-in), and the selection of artworks taken, the indication was that the thieves had deliberately targeted the vehicle.
Eidner continued “It’s odd that there were seven pictures in total and only three were stolen. The framed Warhols were over 1m x 1m, they’re not works you just carry away under your arm […] only the really expensive ones were taken.”
The gallery is currently in the process of finding out of their insurance policy covers thefts from the gallery vehicle; however hope still remains that the stolen pieces will be found. Eidner clearly feels the police could do a little more to assist, saying “Honestly the police have not helped at all. The police informed us they won’t come to the scene, we had to go to the precinct. We hoped they would look for fingerprints, take photos, or something […] or look for potential witnesses. It was recorded by the police, but not more.”
Eidner and the rest of the staff at the gallery are now left wondering how prepared the theft was; were they being watched? For how long were they being watched? In the hope to find out the gallery has appealed to the public to come forward and get in touch with the Nürnberg police with any information regarding the theft.
Warhol prints have historically been highly desirable for thieves; only three months nine Warhol prints of Jewish icons were stolen – and replaced with incredibly convincing fakes to delay the discovery of the– from a movie studio in Los Angeles. The works were valued at about $350,000. Many more have been stolen over the years, on the FBI Stolen Art website alone there are over 70 Warhol artworks still out there.