, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 18 – The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Art Crimes Programme on Wednesday handed back a 25-year-old piece of rare art to its owner in Nairobi.
The bronze hyena sculpture was stolen in 2013 from the Nicklin family in Nairobi and it was recovered four years later in the United States East Coast.
While officiating the hand over, outgoing US ambassador Robert Godec applauded the efforts the bureau made in recovery of the valued cultural artefact.
He further recognized the need for cooperation among law enforcement units in various countries in ensuring cultural heritage is protected.
“The FBI has been able to recover over 15,000 art objects worth $500 million with a conviction of 90 criminals since the Art Crime Unit was established in 2004. I want to congratulate the US and Kenya law enforcement units for recovering this particular piece of art an indication of what we can do when we work together,” Godec said.
The Director of the FBI Art Crime Program Tim Carpenter said further investigations were being conducted to apprehend the culprits involved as well as recover four more artefacts stolen from the same artist.
Carpenter also noted there was need for everyone to be engaged in cultural heritage preservation.
Artist Tim Nicklin who has been in the business for over 40 years noted the artefact was too valuable to attach a price tag to it.
“This is my copy, as a professional artist I am entitled to keep a copy of an art after handing over the original piece to my client. It is even a taboo to sell a copy art leave alone placing a price tag on it.”
“Most of my art work is cast in additions of ten, but this particular one is very special as it is one of two which was specifically commissioned by a client,” he explained.
The sentiments on its value were expressed by his wife Ann Nicklin who described the piece as an inspiration to her bearing in mind the idea of the artefact was generated in 1993 during their honeymoon in the Maasai Mara.