Thefts Chile

Chilean museum reopens after Hirst theft

Santiago’s Museum of Contemporary Art recovers prints lent by leading collector

Collector Juan Yarur and curator Cecilia Brunson

The main branch of Santiago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) will reopen today, 27 August, after the theft of two Damien Hirst butterfly prints stolen from an exhibition featuring works lent by the Chilean collector Juan Yarur. The theft occurred during an open-air concert attended by more than 60,000 people that took place near the museum on 15 August. The museum was vandalised and one of its windows was forced open, leading to the burglary. The institution was immediately closed, awaiting the implementation of new security measures.

The stolen works, which belong to the British artist’s “Souls III” and “Souls IV” series, are each valued at Ps9m ($17,334), and form part of the exhibition “Un Relato Personal” (a personal account), at the MAC (until 29 September). The exhibition, based on Yarur’s collection, consists of more than 80 works by national and international artists, including Hirst, Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin and Alfredo Jaar.

Though the stolen works have been returned, the thieves’ identity remains a mystery. The first print was returned a day after the theft in an anonymous delivery made to the museum, while the second was found by a security guard inside a plastic bag at the nearby Universidad Alberto Hurtado. A museum statement says that despite the return of the stolen works, the incident remains “an attack not just on the generosity of an important collector, but also on what this show means to the market for local artists”.

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