SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City doctor is offering a reward for information leading to the recovery of a valuable statue stolen this week from the Park View Medical Plaza near St. Mark's Hospital.
The statue, a working fountain showing a man holding a shell, is worth more than $80,000, according to Dr. Grant R. Fairbanks. The statue was sculpted by his father, Avard T. Fairbanks, a prolific 20th-century American sculptor.
Avard Fairbanks sculpted the statue during his time as a professor of sculpture at the University of Michigan. Fairbanks' sculptures appear in both the Utah and Wyoming state capitols, in the Matheson Courthouse and in Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., among other places nationwide.
The sculptor was perhaps most famous for designing the ram symbol for Dodge, though.
"Walter Chrysler said, ‘Well Fairbanks, what should we put on the Dodge?' and my father said, ‘I think the ram would go well on the Dodge,' and Chrysler said, ‘Why is that?' and my father said, ‘Well, the ram is the king of the trail. When people see the ram, they'll dodge. And it's been there ever since," Grant Fairbanks said. "Whenever I see a Dodge with a ram on it, I think of my father."
Fairbanks believes the statue stolen from the Park View Medical Plaza on Wednesday night or Thursday morning was likely stolen by two people, due to how heavy the bronze is. It was cut off at the feet, which sit on the base with one foot higher than the other.
Works by Avard Fairbanks
- Statue of Angel Moroni on Washington, D.C.; Jordan River, Utah; Seattle, Wash.; and Sao Paulo, Brazil temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Ute statue in front of union building at University of Utah
- Three busts of Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre
- Frieze for Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University
- Frieze for Laie, Hawaii, LDS temple
- Various other statues and sculptures featured in religious and government buildings throughout the U.S.
The doctor said he first noticed it was missing Thursday morning after getting out of a surgery. He said he looked out the window and "it was gone. During the night, the thieves came and cut the legs and removed the statue."
It is a heartbreaking loss for a man who has only a small collection of his father's works in his possession. He said he first felt "despair" upon looking out the window.
"How could anyone have done such a thing? What is so valuable about metal that they would destroy a well-known, important and extremely valuable statue?" he said. "How could someone do such a thing? It's unfathomable to me."
Before the theft, the statue had been in place at the medical plaza since 1980. Fairbanks is offering a $2,000 reward for information that leads to the safe return of the statue and the apprehension of the thieves.
"This statue is irreplaceable. It is difficult for me to understand how someone could cut this statue up for the bronze any more than somebody could take a hammer to Michelangelo's Pietà," he said. "This is a wanton disregard for the arts and is a blow to us to the first magnitude."