Last week, prosecutors reported that parts of a sculpture by Anselm Kiefer, estimated to be worth around $1 million, were stolen from the artist’s warehouse in Croissy-Beaubourg, France. The stolen parts are believed to be large lead books, a common element in Kiefer’s work, such as The High Priestess/Zweistromland (1985/86), which uses these faux books to explore postwar German trauma.
The theft was captured on CCTV, showing four individuals breaking into the premises and cutting through the steel fence surrounding the artwork before making off with the lead books. This is not the first time Kiefer’s warehouse has been targeted. In 2016, a 13-ton stack of book sculptures and several tons of raw marble were stolen, causing over €2 million in damage. In 2019, another sculpture was damaged during an attempted theft of its raw lead.
In both previous cases, investigators believed the thieves were more interested in the materials than the art itself, a theory echoed by prosecutors in the recent case. The theft coincides with the release of Wim Wenders’s new documentary, Anselm, which explores Kiefer’s art and career and includes footage of his warehouse.