December 11, 2018

FBI intercepts stolen hyena sculpture from Kenya in U.S, returns it

FBI agents.[courtesy]

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers have recovered a hyena sculpture stolen from a home in Runda, Nairobi in Philadelphia, U.S.

The sculpture was stolen in 2013 and shipped to the US for auctioning. Four other pieces of an elephant were also stolen.

The FBI has since returned the hyena sculpture to Kenya and is appealing to anyone with information to present and help in recovery of the four other pieces of art work stolen from Kenya.

“It feels good to have it back in Kenya because this will send a signal to those involved in this crime they can’t trade in the art anymore. It is priceless to us,” said FBI special agent Jake Archer of Art Crime Team according to the Standard.

Archer added: “The art could be in Kenya or the US and we appeal to anyone with information on the same to volunteer to us for recovery.”

Tom Nicklin, a 64-year old Kenyan was the owner of the five sculptures that were stolen and shipped to US for auctioning.

He said he had kept them as artist copies but someone who was close to him stole them.

The road to recovery of the hyena sculpture was triggered by an email from an unknown woman who sent Nicklin a photo of the sculpture asking if it was his.

“She sent an email with the pictures asking if I knew them or they were mine. She said the art was at a display for auction,” he said.

He reported the theft to Runda Police Station when the Interpol Police were alerted and the US Embassy.

FBI said they recovered the sculpture at the US East Coast but no arrest has been made so far.

The sculpture was handed back to Nicklin and his wife Anne Nicklin at the US Embassy.  “The hyena is back! This is so nice to us,” said Anne.

Nciklin has been doing art work for years for a host of clients including retired Kenyan presidents Mwai Kibaki and Daniel Moi.

“All Kenyan presidents from Moi, Kibaki and Kenyatta have my sculpture. This is something I have been doing for years.”

Moi in particular, offered Nicklin, bought many of his pieces to gift visit heads of state. His work has also been presented as trophies in golf tournaments, Safari Rally and Rhino charge.

Since the inception of FBI’s rapid deployment Art Crime Team in 2004, more than 14,850 items valued at over $165 million have been recovered. The team has 16 special agents.

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