VANCOUVER — Susanna Strem was stunned when she went to check on Space Venus, a four-metre, $2.8-million Salvador Dali sculpture that had garnered the admiration of countless passersby and provided the backdrop to countless selfies.
It had been vandalized, its golden egg ripped off its mooring and stolen.
“Imagine my reaction,” the owner of Chali-Rosso Art Gallery on Howe Street said. “I’m in shock that it could happen here in Vancouver.
“It has been all around the world and nothing like this has happened.”
Strem checked in on Space Venus, the fifth large-scale Dali sculpture she’s brought in for public display at considerable expense, about 11 a.m. each morning, to see that it was OK and to clean it up, if needed.
On Sunday, the golden egg that sat on the lower torso was gone.
“There is absolutely no value to the egg alone,” she said.
“This is a senseless and selfish act on the part of the vandals.”
Strem said she competes with major art centres around the world — New York, Mexico City, Paris, London, Stockholm — to bring the sculptures, owned by a Salvador Dali Society Foundation and insured by Lloyd’s of London, to Vancouver.
Space Venus is her favourite so far of the five she has exhibited on the same corner.
“It’s the most breathtaking, the best statement of fine art, of beauty.”
The egg, if retrieved, can be reattached without causing further damage she said. She’s hoping it might have been kids who didn’t realize the statue’s value as art and that they might return it, or that the numerous video cameras at nearby businesses caught something.
“Someone must have seen something,” she Strem said.
“This isn’t just a huge loss for the gallery, but for the entire city and the millions of [future] guests who will no longer be able to enjoy the intact sculpture.
“Sadly, it may also be the last time we are able to fund the presentation of a magnificent, original Salvador Dali sculpture to the people of Vancouver.”
Space Venus was unveiled in May and has had its original contract extended past October into 2020.