The Gates of the Gutenberg Museum - a 12 part series attempting to unravel the mystery of the bronze gates of the Gutenberg Museum.
4 massive sculptures by one of the most significant German figurative sculptors of the mid to late 20th century.
In this series:
Part 1 - The Story so far
Part 2 - Johannes Gutenberg and his museum
Part 3 - A new museum
Part 4 - The Commission
Part 5 - The Artist
Part 6 - The Decision
Part 7 - The Gates
One of the chosen few
Part 8 - The Process
Part 9 - Talkin' 'bout a Revolution
Part 10 - Lost and Unlost
Part 11 - But where are the originals?
Part 12 - Mystery solved?
Making a mark
Just like a bad dream
Elementary, my dear Watson
To say that the city of Mainz is profligate is almost like saying that Paris Hilton isn't averse to be a bit of media attention.
It takes a certain talent to build up a backbreaking debt of close to €1bn in a city with a population of barely 200,000.
They do it without even trying - run the idea for converting a city building into a prison facility up the flagpole, spend multiple €100k on studies and expert assessments and then say "Oh, no, we'll convert it to apartments instead".
This sort of stuff hardly causes a ripple in the local media.
And it seems to have always been like that.
Even back in the 1970s.
Someone in the town hall appears to have been overcome by an urge for retail therapy and said "The city needs some sculptures" and promptly went on a shopping spree, bought three and had them installed in what later became the Sculpture Park on the banks of the Rhine.
Phillip Harth's "Tiger"
Emy Roeder's "Tripolitanerin"
And Karl-Heinz Krause's "Feuervogel" (Firebird) - here a smaller model in his studio.
This was the time of student revolution - Paris's Left Bank in an uproar, Berkeley the focal point of Vietnam War protests, Bader-Meinhof just getting traction in Berlin - and protests against anything and everything bourgeois were on every university's curriculum at the time.
And this art was nothing if not bourgeois from the student's perspective.
"The city's wasting money on art for the RULING CLASSES and the university doesn't even have decent TOILETS" was one of the cries and things got more and more fervent - supposedly helped along by some fairly radical academics on the staff - until someone decided to DO SOMETHING to show THEM.
No idea why they chose "Feuervogel" - perhaps out of respect for the dead, Harth and Roeder having dropped off the perch - but one morning, the pedestal was empty.
The newspapers at the time were full of pictures of Dieter Plod from the local constabulary and other similarly bewildered luminaries standing around and scratching their heads.
It wasn't until the perpetrators skiting to their mates about the previous evening's activities and what they'd done with that bourgeoisie rubbish [sic] that the police frogmen were called in to prod around in the murky depths of the Rhine, looking for something that didn't resemble a pram or a bicycle.
And "Feuervogel" wasn't the only thing to go missing....
Tomorrow: Lost and Unlost