Who stole this Peter Pan statue from a city park?

You’d have to be pretty brazen (or very drunk?) to abduct a statue from a city park.

But there’s something extra heartless about making off with Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up.

It happened 14 years ago in Carl Schurz Park, along the East River. There, a bronze Peter Pan has held court in the middle of a garden since 1975.

One morning in August 1998, however, Peter Pan vanished. “The statue was made by Charles Andrew Hafner in 1928 and showed the slender youth in his distinctive feathered cap and belted tunic sitting on a tree stump with a fawn, a rabbit and a toad at his feet,” wrote The New York Times.

“It had been cut off its stone base and weighed about a thousand pounds, officials said.”

Dozens of police officers investigated—this is the park that’s home to Gracie Mansion, after all. The next day, a scuba team found it at the bottom of the East River.

After divers recovered the statue, Peter Pan went back up in his usual spot in the park, where he’s been enchanting visitors ever since.

So who did it? Though no suspect was ever identified, “investigators said the disappearance of the beloved statue from Carl Schurz Park appeared, appropriately enough, to be the work of a band of overly high-spirited youths, perhaps latter-day Lost Boys who turned on their own icon,” a follow-up Times article stated.

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17 Responses to “Who stole this Peter Pan statue from a city park?”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I can hear their roaring cheers and laughter as the statue hits the water, sinking to the bottom… Who else but kids? Good story.

  2. S.S. Says:

    Now that Christmas season is upon us, this story reminds me the time around 1990 that someone stole the statue of the infant Jesus from the creche in front of St. Anthony’s Church on Houston Street in the South Village.

    The creche was right next to a statue of the Virgin Mary, where local mafia boss, Vinny “The Chin” Gigante would famously wander over from his house in the middle of the night in slippers and bathrobe, mumbling to himself, to ‘pray”, in an effort to convince the authorities that he was too crazy to stand trial.

    One Christmas season the statue of baby Jesus was stolen. The story in the neighborhood goes that the word went out from “Chin” that anyone caught with the statue or trying to pawn or sell it had to account to him. Chin was an alleged murderer.

    Wasn’t everyone relieved a few days later when infant Jesus miraculously returned to his crib, all safe and sound!

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    I hadn’t heard the baby Jesus story, thanks SS! I do recall when the elderly mother of Vinny “The Chin” was mugged near her Sullivan Street home. That mugger picked the wrong old Italian lady….

  4. Sophia Says:

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Thieves-love-Hermes-Statue-of-Greek-god-is-2731232.php We have a story like that her, it is the Hermes, statue up the block from us, back in the70’s it was stolen, no one could find it, till there was an anonymous lead that someone had it in their living room. Police found and returned the stature, were is sat happily, only to have it stolen again on the anniversary of the original theft… 30 years later, a few years ago. It is back, I did not hear how they found him this time, but it was odd to see him gone, often someone has places a flower in his hand.

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    I just don’t understand how anyone can make off with a thousand pound hunk of bronze and not be stopped by a cop!

  6. petey Says:

    50 feet under the east river? that’s good work.

  7. The secret wild boar of Sutton Place « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] of that replica, installed in 1972 by a neighborhood philanthropist who also donated the bronze Peter Pan statue to Carl Schurz Park, about 30 blocks north along the East […]

  8. The fourth day of Christmas: Ephemeral New York « Books Can Save A Life Says:

    […] Years ago, I jogged past Carl Shurtz Park every day, but I never knew Peter Pan lived there. […]

  9. Steve Says:

    That statue of Peter Pan was created it in 1972 by my Grandfather He did many paintings as well. I have also the family Tree he did in German that goes back to 1412 to the present. I was only nine when he passed away in 1960. What a Grandfather, we used to play Checkers and Card games together; what a great man.

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