Artist left devastated after losing sculpture in car theft

David McAllister in his workshop
David McAllister in his workshop
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AN artist has lost a unique modern art sculpture worth thousands of pounds – after thieves stole his Land Rover where the artwork was being stored.

The stolen sculpture has been taken just days before it was due to go on a nationwide tour. The large metal piece, which was expected to fetch at least £5000 at auction, was taken from outside its owner’s home in Leith.

The missing sculpture

The missing sculpture

The bubble-wrapped sculpture was in back of David McAllister’s Land Rover when the vehicle was stolen in the early hours of Friday morning from John’s Place.

The 31-year-old now fears the thieves will attempt to trade in the artwork – which has taken several months to make – for scrap metal.

He said: “I’ve slogged my guts out on it for months, night and day.

“It’s actually that I want back more than the Land Rover. Even if it has just been dumped that would be okay, because it’s made of strong materials.

“I’ve been trying to find ways to look for it and hold down a job at the same time. I’m almost too tired to be angry about it, I just want it back.”

The Apache Pilot was due to form the centrepiece of the upcoming Travelling Gallery, a council-run initiative which takes various artworks to two towns or cities in Scotland every day for four months.

It was supposed to begin in Midlothian next week, but now Mr McAllister has had to explain to organisers that the piece on all the promotional material may be absent.

Ironically, he had moved valuable tools into the back of his red Land Rover Defender two weeks ago after a break-in at his Edinburgh City Arts Studio in Newhaven.

“I thought they would be safer there, then this happens,” he added. “I don’t think whoever stole the car wanted that in particular, but they might think it would make a bit of cash as scrap metal.

“I’d only just bought the Land Rover and was doing it up. My last one I had for ten years, and I was hoping I’d have this one for the same amount of time.”

After the tour the artist had planned to auction the piece in a unique way.

Described as a “mercenary” work, it means people could buy it, but as part of the contract would have to sell it as soon as anyone bids more than they paid for it.

His mother Janice spoke of her upset at the incident.

“It would be a tragedy if someone just looked at it not realising what it was and sold it off for scrap,” she said. “He’s completely devastated by this, he’s put so much into it.”

A police spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police are appealing for witnesses following the theft of a Land Rover from John’s Place, Edinburgh, some time between 1am and 10.30am on Friday, February 24.

“The Land Rover Defender, that is red with a white roof, was taken from the car park in front of John’s Place.

“A valuable sculpture was inside when it was taken, and police are now appealing for anyone with any information to contact them. Enquiries are ongoing, and officers are seeking CCTV opportunities.

Anyone with any information should contact police on 0131-311 3131, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

amorris@edinburghnews.com