Oct. 20, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
A Transformer-themed sculpture that went missing has been returned to the artist after a well-known restaurant owner who took it discovered that it had an owner who was looking for it.
Annalisa Iadicicco, an artist based in Long Island City, said that her Transformer sculpture had been on display outside of her Jackson Avenue studio at the end of August when it was stolen.
She went to several local news outlets last week in her quest to find the missing artwork. The police had ruled that it was likely an accidental trash pickup.
But the piece was taken by Shih Lee, owner of Shi Restaurant, who said he saw it lying on the sidewalk at night and decided that it would be a good fit for his new Japanese restaurant.
He said that he thought it had been abandoned since it was left on the sidewalk.
Iadicicco claimed in news report that the piece was on a chain, something that Lee denies.
Lee said, jokingly, that he doesn’t go around the neighborhood loading up vans with stolen goods. He said the whole thing was a big error and that it should not be blown out of proportion.
“It was out there in the street after 9:30 p.m. and it looked abandoned, I had no idea it was her studio,” Lee said.
He added that he plans on decorating his new Japanese restaurant with local art, and it seems like a “missed opportunity” if they don’t work together to display the transformer in his venue.
“I support local artists, and what I’m trying to do with new restaurant is showcase local artists,” Lee said.
Iadicicco has posted photos on Facebook showing that the sculpture was damaged upon return. Lee said that while there may have been a small amount of damage, he did not want to speak to how much money in damages Iadicicco was seeking.
The sculpture stands about six feet tall and was made out of car bumpers, plastic and cloth, and resembled the head of a Transformer.
“Everybody was taking pictures of it and walking by it,” Iadicicco told the Queens Courier, which first reported on the missing sculpture. “It brought joy to people. Everybody recognized the Transformer face. I would never think that somebody would pick it up and take it.”
Iadicicco did not return multiple requests for comment.