FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Renowned sculptor Gregory Johnson is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for stealing his 350-pound eagle sculpture from a public park.
Johnson, who had leased his $18,500 sculpture to Forsyth County Parks, will pay a $500 cash reward to anyone with information on the stolen bronze eagle.
The 6-foot tall sculpture with a wingspan of about 8 feet was located at the Bethelview Road trailhead of the Big Creek Greenway multiuse trail in Forsyth County. County officials believe the sculpture was taken overnight Aug. 27 or early morning Aug. 28.
“I put the sculpture out there to make the world a more beautiful place, to bring art to the people on the walkway so they can enjoy their walk, the beginning or the end,” Johnson said.
The solid bronze sculpture — bronze is 92 percent copper — could have been taken by thieves to a scrap metal yard. Copper theft has become a continuous nuisance to area businesses, homes under construction and law enforcement.
“I’m hoping that these scrap yards will look and say, ‘That’s an eagle,’” Johnson said.
To cut up the sculpture into little pieces would be time consuming. To melt bronze, it would be nearly impossible, because the temperature would have to reach 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I was hoping this was a joke — you’ve got the South Forsyth War Eagles — and that it would be returned, but at this point, it would be a felony,” he said.
The retail value of the sculpture is $18,500 and Johnson did have it insured.
The sculpture was leased in April to the park through a Forsyth County Art Alliance-sponsored grant.
“Everybody is just disappointed and dismayed at the degradation of our society,” Johnson said. “That people stoop to stealing stuff to get a few hundred dollars for their alcohol or drug behavior, or they feel like they need to play a prank on people, it’s just sad.”
This is not the first time that someone has torn-up, defaced or ruined a sculpture or a memorial, but it’s a first for Forsyth County.
“This is the first time something of this nature has occurred at a Forsyth County park or recreational area,” said Jerry Kinsey, parks and recreation director. “It is certainly our hope that the sculpture will be returned.”
If you make contact with this statue or are familiar with its current location, please contact Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Van Bever at 770-886-2800, ext. 3337.