Umanita (or humanity in Italian) is… or was six feet (1.8 meters) high and weighed over 170 pounds (77 kilograms). It stood outside the Newberry Library on the north side of the city of Chicago. That was until it was stolen late Feb. 16 and the afternoon of Feb. 18. Torn from its base and lugged away, Umanita is worth as much as $70,000, said Virginio Ferrari, who created Umanita in 1987 by cutting, shaping and welding stainless steel.
Sadly with steel prices near all time highs there is a real fear that the work is no more and has been melted down into a $300 cube easily sold on the open scrap market.
“The price of steel and metal is very high right now and historically when that happens people remove art,” said Elizabeth Kelly, director of Chicago’s Public Art Program. “Scrappers seize the opportunity.”
Police spokesman Marcel Bright said he can’t recall a work as big as Umanita getting snatched in the city, sometimes called the museum without walls because of its more than 700 pieces of outdoor art.