One-of-kind bronze bust returned to Lawrence gallery - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

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One-of-kind bronze bust returned to Lawrence gallery

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LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -

The owner of a Lawrence art gallery is more than happy to have a sculpture back at his business after it was stolen last week.

Someone took a bronze bust sculpted by artist Jim Brothers, who died earlier this year at age 72, from the Signs of Life Gallery at West Seventh and Massachusetts streets.

Gallery owner Clay Belcher is glad to have it back.

Authorities said there was no break-in, and employees think someone was able to just walk out of the store with it.

Police said a woman called to report that the statue was at her house, and her ex-husband had stashed it there. And, that is where it was found.

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It was a daring robbery, and there is a $500 reward for anyone who can help solve the case.

The target for thieves was a bronze bust sculpted by artist Jim Brothers who died earlier this year at age 72. Brothers was known as a sculpture who showcased military heroism.

The bust was taken from Lawrence's Signs of Life Art Gallery sometime on Oct. 23 or Oct. 24. Thieves grabbed the large piece and simply walked out during regular business hours.

"Well, it was right here on this pedestal. You can see it's empty. But that's where it was sitting when it was taken," gallery owner Clay Belcher said.

Belcher said in 11 years of business, he's never had any artwork stolen. This piece was a bronze bust of a Native American man.

"It's kind of bulky and heavy, and not something you stick in your pocket. It would take intentionality to get it past the clerks downstairs," Belcher said.

Brothers is an internationally known artist from Kansas who created the artwork. He passed away this summer after a battle with cancer. Some of his original pieces are being showcased in Washington, DC, so his work is worth quite a bit of money. Belcher said he's not sure the thief or thieves realize just how valuable the piece is.

"It would be terrible. It's a great work of art, and it's the only one in existence. They haven't cast anymore, and I learned today that the mold (was) damaged, so they can't cast anymore," Belcher said.

Belcher also wonders is the crook wasn't really after the art itself. Instead, he fears the bronze sculpture was stolen in order to sell it for the metal.

That is what happened in Independence when copper thieves stole a pioneer woman statute, which was later cut down and sold as scrap metal.

Lawrence police told us they've gotten some good tips, and are following several good leads. They say they hope they can track down the sculpture soon.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

Bright and early this morning I was excited to receive a call for
officer John Varta from the Lawrence Police Department saying that
the stolen sculpture had been returned!

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