Local Austria reports that the Art Nouveau Secession building in Vienna had six of its gilded leaves stolen from its dome last week. The building is undergoing renovation and the scaffolding being used to reinstall the leaves made it easy for the thieves to climb up and remove them during the night.
Completed in 1898 to a design by Joseph Maria Olbrich, the building had the purpose of housing works by Vienna Secession artists Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Olbrich and others after they rejected the conservatism of the Künstlerhaus and its focus on historicism. The group aimed at striking up links with contemporary international artists and making their art known in Austria. The building still holds the famous Beethoven frieze designed by Klimt for the group’s 14th exhibition dedicated to Ludwig van Beethoven.
As part of the renovation work, due to be completed in late May, some 2500 leaves and 311 berries from the dome were being restored. Each leaf is approximately 60 centimetres long, made of steel and lined with gold leaf. According to the Secession spokesperson, Karin Jaschke, each leaf has a value of around €1000 and security measures were being tightened.