U.K. detectives had first worked on the theory that the piece, “Reclining Figure,” was stolen three years ago at the request of an art collector. It has never been found. Hertfordshire officers said they now believe the 2.1-ton work was sold for its metal, highlighting the security risks facing high-value sculptures shown in public.
“There was a wave of thefts of statues around the time the Moore was stolen,” Dick Ellis, director of the Art Management Group, a U.K.-based company that advises art collectors on security issues, said in an interview. “There is an increase in the theft of statues at the moment,” said Ellis, a former head of Scotland Yard’s art and antiques squad.