In a daring daylight heist, three sculptures by artist Ai Weiwei were stolen from an exhibition in Hamburg, Germany earlier this week.
On Monday afternoon, a sole perpetrator snatched three artworks by Weiwei from the Lumas Galerie in the Neustadt district in Hamburg. The theft occurred during the opening hours of the gallery. Since then, the local authorities have launched a wide search for the yet-to-be-identified perpetrator. As per reports so far, the security alarms did not alert the gallery staff when the works were removed from their displays. The Hamburg police have set up a hotline for any witnesses who could provide any information related to the theft.
The three works were a part of the Study of Perspective (1995-2017) series that made Ai Weiwei famous across the world. The works were glass sculptures in three colours – red, yellow and orange – all reproductions of the artist’s hand showing a middle finger. The works were listed for sale at around $10,000 each. The entire series of Study of Perspective feature Weiwei’s hand in a similar position, symbolically raised against various politically-charged sites in the world.
The most infamous of the series is perhaps Study of Perspective: Tian’anmen created early in his career in 1997. As the name suggests, the work was a protest against the Tiananmen massacre of 1989 when hundreds of pro-democracy protestors were killed by armed forces. It was a photograph featuring Ai Weiwei at the Tiananmen Square, with his middle-finger raised towards it. In recent years, the work drew fierce criticism from the Chinese government and the M+ Museum in Hong Kong refused to showcase it last year.