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There’s no place like home

Naomi Havlen

A pair of shoes – red high-heel, platform shoes in a size nine – mysteriously reappeared last week at the art gallery where they were stolen almost a year ago.Originally part of “Eight Inches,” a piece of artwork by local artist Rick Magnuson, the shoes were the “feet” of a shopping cart that also had mannequin hands. The piece was on display at the Aspen Artists Cooperative last July when the shoes disappeared.”It’s pretty exciting – I wish there was a note or something, because I want to talk to that person,” Magnuson said Tuesday from New York, where he is vacationing.A couple of weeks after the shoes first disappeared, a note was found at the scene of the crime, indicating that the shoes were safe and would be returned eventually. A photo included with the note showed the red platforms on what looked like a woman’s feet, whose legs are crossed.Aspen Artists Cooperative co-owner John West Townsend said the shoes reappeared last week.”I came to work on Wednesday morning and they were in a plastic bag, sitting in front of the gallery,” Townsend said. “No apology, no nothin’.”The soles of the shoes have seen some wear, he said, as if whoever took them off the shopping cart got some use out of them.During the winter, Magnuson replaced the red shoes with some black ones of the same style, and “Eight Inches” continued to sit out at the Highlands Village gallery until he moved it into his home. He said he’s not sure what he’ll do with the red shoes now that they’ve returned.But there is a slight chance that he and Townsend will eventually be able to learn the identity of the thief: Townsend said a surveillance camera was put out in the plaza this winter, and he has asked the Ritz Carlton to view them to find the culprit.”Right before Christmas all of the storefronts had ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise smeared all over their windows, so they put up this security camera,” Townsend said. “We’ll see if we catch anyone.”Even so, Magnuson said he’s not interested in pressing charges against the person who defaced his artwork, worth $1,500.”I don’t mind … I was a little pissed off when they were stolen, but what can you do? It’s human nature. People want to steal things,” he said.The shoes were bolted to the shopping cart, so whoever took them must have had a socket with them, Townsend said. They disappeared when he accidentally left the artwork out on the plaza one night last summer, rather than locking it inside the gallery.Both of them deny rumors that the theft was a publicity stunt.”I’ve told a lot of people now, ‘No, I didn’t take them, they were really stolen,'” Townsend said. In fact, he suspects that the shoe filcher might be someone who works at Aspen Highlands.”I’m surprised that they were returned after almost a year,” Magnuson said. “Now a few people owe me lunch who thought this was just a stunt.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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