Monday, 11 February 2013

Statue of Marcus Aurelius Portableised for Market

It was cemented centuries ago into a masonry wall, 14 metres up in in the tower of the church of San Salvador in Quintana del Marco (a small municipality in the province of León, Castile and León, Spain). The bust of marcus Aurelius had been found in the narby Roman town of Los Villares. Now the head (only the head) is on its way to new owners. Thieves scaled the wall and removed the head (on an old break) of this local landmark, leaving the rest of it embedded in the wall.
But then, as Adalberto Biasiotti points out on MSN:
the big advatage of stealing a head is the easy transport; often burglars have to jump over high walls to reach the statues and the head is stored and moved  in a football sack vandal have many times thrown a Roman statue on the ground, cutting  off the head the approximate value on the clandestine market is about 5000 euros in Europe if the head reaches the US, the value jumps to twice the amount.
'Decapitan el busto romano de Marco Aurelio y se llevan sólo la cabeza',, 10th Feb 2013.

Photo: I have edited some pigeon-poo from the photo, I think we should concentrate here on more than the object-centred arguments of self-centred collectors.  UPDATE 29th July 2013:
Javier Pes, 'Stolen bust of Roman emperor turned Christian saint recovered in Spain', Art Newspaper online, 29 July 2013.
A fourth century bust of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, stolen from a small church in the north west of Spain, has been recovered by the Guardia Civil, Spain's national police force has announced. Six people have been detained after an operation that focused on Seville in the south. Climbing equipment and rope had been found after the robbery in February when the bust disappeared from the bell tower of the Church of San Pedro, Quintana del Marco, a town in the province of León. The emperor's head, probably first discovered nearby as the area is rich in Roman remains, had stood in for Saint Peter since the 18th century. Police in Cordoba recovered the bust after a car was stopped and searched in the city.
Apparently, something like that is not so easy to get rid of... had they been carrying it around in the car all this time?

1 comment:

Cultural Property Observer said...

Sadly, either a symptom of the economic meltdown in Spain or the work of juveniles. If the Church is in the center of town, one wonders how they got away with it. Probably best to substitute copies for originals, not only because of theft but environmental degradation.

It's also a bit sad this very interesting portrait bust is just now getting the publicity it deserved, but only because it was stolen.

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