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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 17:40 GMT
Festival of Britain bronze stolen
Arthur Fleischmann's studio
Fleischmann used all kinds of sculpting materials
A historic bronze statue by sculptor Arthur Fleischmann has been stolen from its home in Leamington Spa.

Miranda, a bronze sculpture 2.5m long and 1.2m high, was stolen some time between 14 and 17 December 2001 from the main entrance of the AP (Automotive Products) company in Tachbrook Road.

We're very concerned - we'd like to see her back

John Beaumont, Warwick District Council
The sculpture, commissioned by AP's predecessor, the Lockheed Hydraulic Brake Company, was created for the 1951 Festival of Britain and first displayed in London's Festival Gardens.

A spokeswoman for Leamington Spa police put the value of the work at between 50,000 and 100,000.

So far police have no idea as to its whereabouts or who might have stolen it.

Miranda attracted a great deal of press coverage during the Festival of Britain, in part for its unconventional portrayal of a mermaid with two legs instead of a fish's body, and fins instead of feet.

Trevor Howard's bust
Fleischmann sculpted a bust of Trevor Howard
Mr Fleischmann said at the time: "I think that mermaids with fish tails are rather dull.

"Why should not a beautiful mermaid have nice legs? She can still swim with her fins on her feet. At least that is how I imagine a mermaid."

The work, intended as a tribute to the skill and industry of the people of Britain, took three months to create and involved two models.

The bronze was cast by Vincent Galizia foundry at Battersea, south London, and was returned to Leamington Spa after the Festival closed.

It was set in a fountain and was listed as a Grade II building, and remained on its site until the theft.

Fleischmann in studio
He kept working until just before his death aged 93
John Beaumont, Warwick District Council's Area Planning Officer, told BBC News Online: "We're very concerned - we'd like to see her back.

"But there's nothing much we can do except wring our hands at the moment - it's now a matter for the police."

A museum is being founded for Mr Fleischmann, who died in 1990, in his native Slovakia.

See also:

31 Dec 01 | Arts
Sculptor's spirit returns home
28 Jul 01 | Middle East
Egyptian stolen sculpture returned
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