This statue, by Brighton sculptor Peter Webster, was stolen from Preston Park during the weekend of 2-3 September 2007. Unveiled in 1987, at the time it was the most expensive public sculpture in Brighton, costing private sponsors £25,000. The statue was sawn off at the foot and broken up into pieces by the thieves who attempted to melt it down for scrap. As bronze needs to be melted in a furnace at about 1,000 degrees, they were unsuccessful but thus far, only one of the legs and some other smaller pieces have been recovered.
It is likely that despite its easy identification as a sculpture, the pieces have been bought by unscrupulous scrap metal dealers. This is another example of a disturbing trend of thefts that is sweeping the country. The Council do not hold any insurance to cover replacement of this sort of piece and so it must now be added to the list of 'lost' Brighton sculptures. It would be impossible to replicate it in any case as there is no mould in existence.
The sculpture, depicting the final exhausting moments of Ovett's race, was designed and executed with the input of both Ovett himself and his family who were absolutely delighted with the realism and captured emotion of the final result. Preston Park was where Ovett trained. He gifted to Webster several personal items that were on display, along with the recovered pieces of bronze, at the project symposium in November 2007. The Ovett family are naturally upset by the statue's theft and destruction. Council official Tony Hewison commissioned Peter Webster to begin the statue in 1983 and it took four years to complete. A woman of no fixed abode was arrested for possession of parts of the statue but no charges have as yet been made.
Any further news with regard to proposals to replace the statue will be posted on this website.