What’s the point? Giant red thumbtack worth $50K stolen from art gallery


HICKORY, N.C. — Authorities in North Carolina are stuck after a giant red thumbtack sculpture was stolen from an art gallery late last month.

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The artist who created the 10-foot-long artwork said it was worth about $50,000, WSOC-TV reported.

The piece was stolen from the ATAC Gallery in Hickory on Feb. 27, according to the Hickory Daily Record. Paul Hunter Speagle, who created the 40-pound thumbtack, told the newspaper that he made it while attending the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 2002. He crafted it out of large cardboard sheets of foam and acrylic.

Born and raised in Hickory, Speagle earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in painting from SCAD in 2005, according to his website.

He added a master’s degree in fine arts in 2012 from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Because of its size, the thumbtack was created in two parts.

Speagle said the artwork was missing when he opened his gallery at about 10 a.m. EST on Feb. 27. He said he found the base across the street at Dave’s Trim Shop, the Record reported.

The rest of the thumbtack and the needle, which was pulled out of the base, were gone.

“We thought, ‘Well, maybe the wind blew it,’ because it does come apart,” Speagle told the newspaper. “But we scoured for everything and could not find it.

“Our theory is that someone had lifted it and didn’t realize it came apart. It was too big and then they ran away with just two-thirds of it, which is even worse. At least they could have kept it all together.”

Speagle is hoping his thumbtack will be returned, but he is not optimistic.

“The sculpture is an iconic symbol of the gallery,” Speagle said in a text message to the Record. “With an ‘art market’ value of $50,000 but the giant red thumbtack is priceless to the artists and ATAC Gallery. Despite global interest it is not for sale.

“The sculpture is a standout piece symbolizing the gallery’s commitment to exhibiting innovative art.”

The Hickory Police Department is handling the investigation. Anyone with information about the missing artwork is asked to call Hickory police at 828-328-5551.

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