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‘Sparky’ found in recycling yard

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After a week on the streets, “Sparky” – the bronze dog that disappeared from the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History – was recovered from a recycling yard Wednesday morning, according to the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department.

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department recovered a bronze dog from a recycling yard after it was stolen from the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History last week. (Courtesy New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department)

(Courtesy New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department)

“Our recycling metals compliance officer received a call from an individual saying he had paid an individual for the dog statue at a recycling plant,” said Ben Cloutier, a spokesman for the department. “He recognized it from the story in the Journal.”

The recycling yard is in Albuquerque, but is not being identified.

The dog statue, part of the “Park Place” installation by famed sculptor Glenna Goodacre, was reported missing last Wednesday from the museum’s sculpture garden where it sat with an old man on a bench. The dog, nicknamed “Sparky” by children and museum employees, is part of a larger piece representing people at leisure.

Andrew Connors, the museum’s curator of art, said it looked like someone had cut through a bolt that attached the statue to concrete buried in the ground. The theft was not caught on video because a security camera aimed at the sculpture is blocked by a tree, Connors said. He said the museum is looking into installing more cameras.

The metallic canine was worth thousands of dollars, Connors said.

But it was sold at a tiny fraction of its worth.

The recycling yard paid $55 for the statue, Cloutier said, or roughly $1 per pound. The statue was originally estimated to weigh about 100 pounds.

“The person that sold it sold it as raw materials, not as a work of art,” Connors said. “That indicates how stealing a sculpture and hoping to make a lot of money on it is not a lucrative venture.”

The compliance officer picked up the statue from the recycling yard and turned over the seller’s information, including name and phone number, to the Albuquerque Police Department, Cloutier said.

The statue will be returned to the museum after the police process it as evidence, Connors said.

“The wonderful thing is that police may actually have a lead on who took it,” he said. “That’s really great since that individual has really done a disservice to the community.”

Connors said no one from the museum has examined the dog yet to see what condition it’s in and if it needs to be repaired. He said he is surprised but pleased it was found so quickly.

“The fact that they would sell a piece like that so publicly indicates they’re not the brightest bulb in the box,” Connors said. “Thank goodness.”

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