The art world is in crisis today following the theft of art collector Charles Saatchi. Police believe he may have been stolen to order and could already be in the hands of a private collector collector.
‘This is the art theft of the century,’ said BBC arts editor Will Gompertz. ‘Saatchi is one of the nation’s greatest treasures and is probably worth more than all of our other artworks put together.’
The reclusive collector is understood to have been stolen from his London gallery by a team of burglars who disguised themselves as works of art by cutting themselves in half and hiding inside a tank of formaldehyde.
During the night they emerged and carefully navigated their way past a sequence of alarms and laser trip wires that surround the multi-millionaire at all times. Saatchi was last seen being wheeled away on a trolley with an inscrutable expression on his face.
‘We couldn’t believe that he had been taken,’ said gallery custodian Arthur Grimes. ‘When I arrived in the morning there was a big gap in the room where he normally stands. The thieves had replaced him with a cardboard replica, but even to my untrained eye it was an obvious forgery.’
At an emotional press conference a visibly shaken Damien Hirst appealed for the safe return of Saatchi. ‘Whoever has taken Charles, please bring him back,’ he pleaded. ‘We rely on men like him – people with vast sums of money and a questionable taste in art.’
Meanwhile, Tracey Emin has announced that she will be holding an all night vigil for the return of Saatchi in which she sits naked in a tent wailing her displeasure, which, incidentally, forms the centrepiece of her new retrospective at Tate Modern.
‘Saatchi is far too famous to be sold on the open market,’ explained DCI Jack Regan of the Stolen Art Collectors Squad. ‘It’s much too early to speculate but I imagine he is already in the hands of a billionaire collector collector, perhaps some crazed Russian oligarch who will keep him locked away in a secure room to stare at for his own personal pleasure.’
As the search continues, the empty space where Saatchi once stood is now being auctioned at Sotheby’s and could be worth millions.