Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 11:32 UK

Missing bird's mysterious return


Radio Merseyside reporter describes finding the statue

A small bronze sparrow which was part of a Tracey Emin sculpture which had gone missing from its home in Liverpool has been returned.

An anonymous caller left a message on BBC Radio Merseyside's answerphone, saying they had left the 60,000 artwork in the grounds of The Oratory.

The bird was found in an envelope marked "FAO Tracey Emin: URGENT!"

A note inside read: "We are sorry - No harm meant. We would have returned it sooner but we were scared xxx."

The local BBC station discovered the disappearance of the bird earlier this week and contacted the police.

Tracey Emin said it was "a crime and an insult to Liverpool."

The artwork, The Roman Standard, which features the 10cm (4in) sparrow on a 4m (13ft) pole, was commissioned by the BBC for the art05 festival three years ago.

The note
The note accompanied the bird inside the envelope

But upon its disappearance there was some dispute as to who owned the sculpture and had responsibility for it.

The pole remained in place outside The Oratory, by the Anglican Cathedral in Upper Duke Street, but the bird vanished about two weeks ago.

The Dean of the Anglican Cathedral, the Very Reverend Justin Welby, said he was overjoyed at its return.

"It's absolutely stunning, I can't believe my eyes.

"Everyone has been saying it belongs to someone else over the last few days but I wonder who'll claim it now. I think it's mine."

Mr Welby said he didn't think the people who stole the bird knew it to be the famous artwork and it was probably taken as a joke.

He added: "I've only been here since December and I didn't know about it.

"I think we need to say well done and thank you to them for returning it. It's fantastic that they've done the right thing.

Sparrow missing from Emin artwork
02 Jul 08 |  Merseyside
Emin unveils 'sparrow' sculpture
24 Feb 05 |  Merseyside
Liver Bird inspires artist Emin
15 Feb 05 |  Merseyside

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