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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
Gogol's nose goes
Nose
Gogol himself had a prominent nose
A statue of a giant nose in St Petersburg, inspired by Gogol's story of a man's pursuit of his escaped nose, has also vanished.

Police in Russia's second city are hunting the thieves responsible for the removal of the 100kg marble piece.

It was erected eight years ago to honour Nikolai Gogol for his popular but surreal 19th Century short story.


It required a ladder, significant physical strength as well as a lot of motivation

Vladimir Timofeyev
Scuplture museum
In it a civil servant's nose detaches itself and he has to pursue it all over the city as it conducts a bizarre walkabout.

"The nose seems to have gone for a walk," said its sculptor Vyacheslav Bukhayev.

"It could not have been stolen for its material. I really don't know who could have taken it - maybe it was some art lover who prefers admiring works of art in private."

St Petersburg police official Pavel Rayevsky indicated detectives believed a collector was probably behind the theft.

Opportunists are unlikely to have been responsible as the piece weighs 100kg and was positioned in a way that would have made it awkward to remove.

Replacement nose

"It required a ladder, significant physical strength as well as a lot of motivation," said Vladimir Timofeyev, director of the city's sculpture museum.

Mr Bukhayev said he was already considering whether and how to craft a replacement for the stolen nose.

"Maybe it's for the best. In Gogol's story, the nose has a birthmark which I omitted in my sculpture.

"In my second nose, I will be more faithful to the story and add the birthmark," he said.

Russia is a hotspot for organised art theft, with St Petersburg a particular focus for gangs.

See also:

25 Apr 02 | Entertainment
18 Jan 02 | Entertainment
14 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
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