A £3m Rodin sculpture is among art pieces missing from Glasgow museums.
Officials from Glasgow Life, which is in charge of the collection, cannot find Auguste Rodin’s Les Bourgeois de Calais as well as a painting of Billy Connolly’s Banjo by artist John Byrne.
The situation has been slammed as “deeply concerning” by Conservative MSP Alexander Stewart.
Famous artist Rodin is well know for his “Thinker” sculpture.
The “unlocated” Rodin creation, which is estimated to be worth about £3m, is a plaster version of Les Bourgeious which can be seen in bronze outside London’s Houses of Parliament.
The work is missing alongside about 1,750 other items according to the Sunday Times following a freedom of information request.
A Glasgow Life spokesperson said the Rodin artwork was damaged while on display in Kelvingrove Park in 1949 and its location is currently unknown.
The spokesperson said: “The plaster sculpture Les Bourgeois de Calais by Auguste Rodin was exhibited in Kelvingrove Park in 1949. The Sculpture in the Open Air exhibition ran from June 25 to September 30, 1949.
“Les Bourgeois de Calais suffered damage while on display in this exhibition and at present is unlocated.”
The spokesperson said the storage of collections has improved and objects have been found that were previously considered lost in a statement from Glasgow Life.
The spokesperson said: “The process of recording, cataloguing and caring for the Glasgow Museums Collection has improved significantly since it was founded in the 1860s. For 30 years, the cataloguing of the collection has been increasingly centralised using the Museum’s Collection Management System. As part of the major museums capital projects in Glasgow over the last 20 years, the storage of the collection has also been improved.
The spokesperson added: “Glasgow Life Museums has spent more than two decades conducting an inventory of the items in the collection, and, based on these processes, finding objects which had previously been recorded as unlocated.
“This process has enhanced security of the collections, preventing theft from storage in the last 20 years, and reduced the number of objects recorded as unlocated, even temporarily. Where historic thefts have been conclusively identified, we have robust processes in place including notifying the police and adding the items to the Art Loss register which makes it difficult to secure sales at legitimate auctions.”
MSP Alexander Stewart, Conservative deputy culture spokesperson, said: “The extent of these losses absolutely beggars’ belief and is indeed a betrayal of our heritage.
“That the National Museums of Scotland have lost sight of so many crucial – and in the main, priceless and irreplaceable – artefacts is beyond deeply concerning.”
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