LONDON: POLICE are hunting a robber who escaped with two bronzes from a Chelsea shop after a violent struggle with the dealer. The robber, who struck at the Chelminski Gallery in the King’s Road on Wednesday, May 14, is thought to be the same man who has attempted a number of similar raids at shops in the area over the past two years.
Gallery owner Hilary Chelminski, who was slightly hurt after she was pushed to the floor during the robbery, told the Gazette how a man appeared at the door of her shop asking to be let in. He appeared normal until he got inside when he immediately started to inspect the bronzes on display, but was only interested in the prices, not the items themselves. Offering to pay for pieces by cash or banker’s draft, he claimed to have up to £20,000 to spend.
He spent at least a couple of minutes wandering around, ostensibly looking at bronzes – but Ms Chelminski thinks he was probably checking for CCTV cameras and other security measures – before asking her to look up some information. As she did so, he grabbed a bronze and rushed to the door. She tried to stop him and he hit her, pushing her to the floor where she narrowly missed knocking her head on a marble base. In the process, she managed to grab the bronze back from the robber, but he then snatched two others, stepped over her and made his escape.
Ms Chelminski described the robber as white, with a sallow complexion, of slim build and about 5ft 11in tall. He probably had short dark hair, but it was covered with a dark blue baseball cap and he also wore a blue anorak-type jacket. She thinks he was in his 30s and spoke with a slight London accent.
She has since upgraded security measures at her gallery, which already had a closed-door policy, but warned that her suspicions were only aroused after she had let him in.
The first piece is one of a pair of late 16th century Venetian bronze female figures, 18in (46cm) tall, attributed to Tiziano Aspetti. Classically draped, the figure is holding a pair of compasses or dividers and is thought to represent Urania, the Muse of Astronomy, or Geometry.
The second piece is a bronze statuette of Mercury after Giambologna (1529-1608), 2ft 7in (79cm) tall, and made in the late 18th/early 19th Century. Here depicted as the God of Commerce, this version of Giambologna’s Mercury holds aloft in his right hand a small purse or money bag. The wand, or caduceus, which would normally be held in the left hand, is missing, and the figure is mounted on an unusual rose-brown marble base.
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