'Golden cabbage' leaves stolen off Vienna landmark

The Secession building is undergoing restoration and the culprits made use of the scaffolding to clamber up and prize six to eight of the leaves off.
The Secession building is undergoing restoration and the culprits made use of the scaffolding to clamber up and prize six to eight of the leaves off.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

VIENNA (AFP) - Thieves have stolen half a dozen of the copper leaves that make up the famous "golden cabbage" on the roof of the iconic art nouveau Secession building in Vienna, police said Wednesday (April 25).

The building, built in 1897-8, is undergoing restoration and the culprits made use of the scaffolding to clamber up and prize six to eight of the leaves off, police spokesman Irina Steirer said.

The theft from the roof, visible from afar and a well-known landmark in the Austrian capital, took place on Monday night. The cost of the damage is estimated at more than 10,000 euros (S$16,200).

The building by architect Joseph Maria Olbrich was constructed to house works by Gustav Klimt and other artists after they quit the stuffy Kuenstlerhaus to found a new art association called the Secession.

Not everyone in Vienna, a vibrant hub of art, science and philosophy at the time, was impressed however, and the original site on the famous Ringstrasse boulevard was abandoned after a public furore.

For the renovation work, due to be completed at the end of May, around 2,500 leaves and 311 "berries" were restored and repaired over recent months and were in the process of being put back.