Giant $55k bronze gnome found after theft

The giant bronze, $55,000 gnome stolen in Auckland is safe - but the culprits aren't.

Named 'Thinker', the two-metre-tall cast bronze statue was taken by a group of thieves from outside a central Auckland art gallery on Christmas Eve.

CCTV footage showed the thieves, dressed in hi-vis vests and hoodies, spending an hour on Christmas Eve meticulously unbolting the sculpture from its concrete plinth.

'Thinker', the gnome.
'Thinker', the gnome. Photo credit: Newshub

Gow Langsford Gallery gallery director, Gary Langsford, returned from the Christmas holidays to find the gnome was gone.

"We had some interest in the work prior to Christmas so when we first noticed it wasn't there we assumed perhaps one of the girls had sold it," he told Newshub.

But after checking the CCTV footage Mr Langsford discovered the group spent an hour unbolting the gnome from its concrete plinth.

"[It's] not easy to move so they brought equipment to unbolt it, and enough manpower to lift it and obviously put it in a vehicle and take it away," Mr Langsford says.

After he appealed for the public to track down the gnome, it turned up outside the Salvation Army Church and Community Centre in Glen Eden. Forensics have inspected the gnome and dusted it for fingerprints.

He will be safely returned to the Gow Langsford Gallery later on Tuesday - a fortunate escape for the precious gnome.