Bronze bear sculpture, worth thousands, stolen from Santa Fe gallery

Bottom Heavy, a sculpture by Joshua Tobey was taken from Manitou Galleries in Santa Fe. The piece is marked edition 5/15. Courtesy photo

Brazen thieves walked away with a massive, $19,000 bronze bear sculpture from outside a downtown Santa Fe art gallery Sunday night, police said.

Manitou Galleries associate director Cyndi Hall said Tuesday that the gallery’s surveillance cameras showed two men wearing hoodies cutting the bolts holding down Joshua Tobey’s Bottom Heavy sculpture — which is, indeed, heavy at 150 to 175 pounds, Hall said — and removing it around 11 p.m. Sunday from the front of the gallery at 123 W. Palace Ave. The sculpture had been at the site for about six months, she said.

Santa Fe Police Department spokesman Greg Gurulé said Tuesday the theft is still under investigation, and there are no known suspects in the case.

“They knew that there was a camera there,” Hall said.

The two men likely parked outside the view of the camera, she said, and then took turns cutting the bolts that fastened the sculpture to a stone bench — all the time shielding their faces from view.

“This took some work,” Hall said. “It was bolted down a foot thick through the rock.”

One of the suspects was then seen on video picking up the 4-foot-long bear and toting it away, she said.

The stamped edition number of the sculpture has been submitted to a national crime database in case the artwork shows up somewhere for sale, Hall said. The gallery is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thieves.

Manitou was one of four galleries on West Palace Avenue that had its windows smashed in an early morning vandalism spree in a separate incident in March.