In 1986, someone in in the Australian city of Sydney stole a garden gnome and left the owner this message:
“Dear mum, couldn’t stand the solitude any longer. Gone off to see the world. Don’t be worried, I’ll be back soon. Love Bilbo xxx.”
Since then, people have been stealing gnomes and taking their pictures as they traveled around the world, filling the owners with either mirth, jealousy, or indignation, depending on their disposition.
But a thief or thieves in Delray Beach, Florida, took things to a whole new level when he/she/they stole a gnome that was part of a contemporary art exhibit at the Cornell Art Museum.
The gnomes were part of an exhibit called “Lit,” which, according the museum, is made up of “ internationally recognized artists [who] have used light to bring their creative vision to life.”
The museum took their story to Instagram in hopes that the blue gnome would be returned safely, offering a handsome reward of $500.
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Bring the Gnome Home!!! One of @samtufnell_contemporary_arts 's gnomes was taken from the front of the museum Thursday night. Help us get him back! #DelrayBeach deserves public art- we won't let the thieves get us down. Contact us if you have information on the gnomenapping. #art #gnome #stolen #theft #artmuseum #help #samtufnell #cornellartmuseum
“Ultimately I’m not sure if it’s an act of appreciation or absolute hatred,” artist Sam Tufnell told the Palm Beach Post, “but we would very much like for the gnome to be returned and be reunited with the series,”
The remaining gnomes have been removed until the museum can find a secure way to display them.