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They stole what?


Ancram artist asks police to find toilet seat missing from her outdoor interactive piece

ANCRAM—This pastoral southeastern-most town in the county is a long way from the Louvre, but it was recently the scene of an extraordinary art heist.

Artist Wilma Parker de Pavloff of Wildflower Hill Road, a private road off Route 82, reported to Livingston State Police and The Columbia Paper that in late October parts of an artwork titled, “Holy Sh**,” were shamelessly swiped from her property. “Based on principals of site-specific, interactive art and interior recreation,” according to an email from the artist, the sculpture incorporated a granite boulder, a toilet seat, a toilet paper holder, a cast iron cat and a fresh pumpkin.


The piece was a nod to the work of surrealist and Dadaist Marcel Duchamp of urinal art fame, Ms. Parker de Pavloff said in a phone call from San Francisco, Wednesday.

Last seen October 20, the white plastic toilet seat, the toilet paper holder and the pumpkin, described by police as “medium-sized” were taken from the art crime scene about 50 feet off the road on the Parker de Pavloff property, where she lives part of the year.

According to State Police Investigator Kelly Taylor, the matter is under investigation by Trooper James Horton.

The cost of the stolen items if purchased separately would be about $25, but as a work of art, Ms. Parker de Pavloff placed the value at $6,500. As a full-time artist for 40 years, her work collected in museums nationally and internationally, she said her oil paintings routinely sell for between $10,000 and $15,000. Though sculpture is a new venture for her, Ms. Parker de Pavloff based the price on her prior sales.

Holy Sh** (the word is spelled out in the official title of the work), which was slated to go on display at a Boston-area gallery next year, is not the first target of art thieves. Ms. Parker de Pavloff noted in an email that an earlier work, “Gnome,” was nabbed from its base on her property in August.

In what Ms. Parker de Pavloff thought was a break in the case, a cardboard box, about the size and shape that would accommodate a bunch of long stemmed roses, appeared a week or so after the theft. It was placed where the toilet seat was once situated, and had a message written on it announcing a reward of $5,000 for the “Clampett-art” toilet seat. Though Ms. Parker de Pavloff has her suspicions about who took the seat and left the box, police have turned up no lids or culprits despite scouring the countryside to flush them out.

Recently the loss of Holy Sh** has become even more distressing to Ms. Parker de Pavloff. Following the theft she came upon a magazine article about the opening of a new toilet-themed amusement park in South Korea.

Called the Restroom Cultural Park, the city of Suwon has dedicated the park to its former mayor, Sim Jae-duck, who was allegedly born in a toilet, lives in a toilet-shaped house and devoted his political career to better local sanitation, according to Ms. Parker de Pavloff.

The goal of the park is “to promote healthier habits” in the bathroom and it seems to Ms. Parker de Pavloff like the perfect venue for the display of Holy Sh**.

Since the purloined pumpkin has likely rotted away by now and the outlook for recovery of the toilet seat is not promising, the artist is considering recreating the piece and making some art-world connections that may lead to the cultural park. And to remedy future thievery, she is mulling the installation of video cameras on her property.

To contact Diane Valden email



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