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Thieves pinch sculpture from Long Island City

Sergio Furnari, 37, said he placed the sculpture on a beam near his studio on 47th Road in Long Island City during the evening of Jan. 14 and noticed that the figure on the far right, who is holding a bottle, was missing three days later. The sculpture, which stood at Ground Zero in Manhattan for five months following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, acted as a mobile piece of art, spending most of its time perched near his studio or riding on the back of a friend's truck through the city's streets. He said the sculpture also spent time in other U.S. locations, including Washington, D.C."I'm offering a $10,000 award leading to the arrest and conviction of the idiots who did this," he said.Furnari, who moved to Queens from Sicily in 1994, said he spent several years sculpting the life-size pewter-colored sculpture of the 11 workers on a skyscraper's beam. He said each figure weighs 100 pounds and cost an estimated $10,000 to create.He said he believed the theft was premeditated because the sculpture was elevated 12 feet off the ground at the time the figure was stolen and guessed that several people were involved in the heist. Furnari said he thinks he knows who stole the statue.Furnari said he originally sculpted the piece because he was inspired by the 1932 photo of the workers at the construction site of Rockefeller Center."I fell in love with the picture," he said. "It took lots of sacrifice for me to make. Someone has come and taken a part of me, part of New York and a part of American history. They definitely crossed the line."The sculptor said the theft was not the first problem he has encountered near his Queens studio. He said vandals previously scratched his antique cars near the studio. Furnari said he specializes in sculptures and handpainted ceramic tiles, but also sells mini replicas of the 1932 ironworkers photograph.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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