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Art heist: $55K gnome statue nabbed from Auckland gallery found abandoned outside op-shop

An bronze gnome statue worth tens of thousands of dollars that vanished from outside an Auckland art gallery on Christmas morning has been recovered - abandoned this morning outside a West Auckland Salvation Army.

Gow Langsford Gallery director Anna Jackson retrieved the $55,000 artwork this morning, one day after making a high-profile plea in the media for its safe return.

The statue, named Thinker by artist Gregor Kregar, was in good condition with a "sweet note" asking to be returned to the gallery, Ms Jackson said.

"We're absolutely elated," she told 1NEWS. "It's the best possible outcome."

CCTV footage of thieves who stole a bronze gnome statue from outside Gow Langsford Gallery in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

In a post to the art gallery's Facebook page, the two-metre-tall bronze-cast sculpture is described as "beloved".

From here on out, Ms Jackson said, the gnome will be displayed inside the gallery. 

"We'll put him inside our Lorne Street gallery now that he's become a bit of a celebrity," she explained.

The statue, which was created in 2015, had been displayed in several locations but was only outside the Kitchener Street gallery for a week before it was stolen.

Gow Langsford Gallery director John Gow with the stolen bronze gnome statue. Source: Supplied

CCTV footage revealed the brazen thieves, who wore high-visibility clothing, working for an hour to pull down the large statue in the early hours of Christmas morning.

Detective Senior Sergeant Roger Small said the theft, which was reported to police on January 12, was one of the more bizarre thefts he had heard of. 

"It's not something that's exactly common, but we're very glad this artwork can now be returned to the gallery."

Police will be assessing CCTV footage and examining the sculpture to try to find those who may have been responsible for taking it, Small said. 

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The artwork was uplifted from outside Auckland’s Gow Langsford Gallery on Christmas Day. Source: 1 NEWS