Hepworth statue latest target of British metal thieves
Police were searching Wednesday for a sculpture by renowned British artist Barbara Hepworth which thieves tore from its plinth in a London park.
The theft of the bronze work of art, called Two Forms (Divided Circle), is the latest in a spate of metal thefts as prices have soared.
The sculpture, insured for £500,000 ($790,000, 600,000 euros), was stolen overnight on Monday from Dulwich Park in Southwark, south London.
Hepworth's largest work, a bronze sculpture called Single Form, stands at the United Nations building in New York.
Southwark council has offered a £1,000 reward for information leading to the statue's return.
The leader of the council, Peter John, said: "The theft of this important piece of 20th century public art from Dulwich Park is devastating.
"The theft of public art and metal is becoming a sickening epidemic. I would ask the Met Police and their metal theft task force to investigate this theft as a matter of urgency."
Police said however they were "keeping an open mind as to whether the theft is related to the statue's potential value as a work of art or as scrap metal".
Metal theft is believed to cost the British economy around £700 million a year and London's Metropolitan Police has launched a dedicated unit to tackle the problem.
Police have complained recently that thieves have plundered copper cables from train lines and signalling systems and from telecommunications systems.
Hepworth, one of Britain's most important sculptors of the 20th century, died aged 72 in a fire at her studio in St Ives, Cornwall, in 1975.
© 2011 AFP