Little Doggies Foo

1192715587There’s something cinematic about the idea of an art heist. Someone dressed in head-to-toe black suddenly pulls a mask over his face, grabs a precious artifact, and runs for the doors as alarms whoop. The city’s latest art theft is less a blockbuster scenario, and more the petty bickering of rich men.

If you haven’t heard the tale of Chinatown’s missing foo dogs, you’re living under a Herald-free rock. Last week, the tab found that two marble foo dogs were taken from the city by Paul Pedini, the former vice president of Modern Continental and moved to his rooftop garden in Lexington.

Of course, Mayor Tom Menino was pissed about the removal of the historic statues:

“We want the lions back now,” Menino said. “They belong to the city, and the contractor had no authority to take them.”

The contractor maintained that the statues were “surplus” from the Big Dig and would have been thrown out had he not used them to beautify his home.

“I took possession of (them) with the understanding that they were otherwise going to be discarded,” Pedini said. “My intention was to preserve them. No one from the city or the Chinese community expressed any opposition to my taking them, nor have they ever asked me to return them.”

. . . Except that several people did in the Herald’s article. Of course, Pedini didn’t return the statues to the city. The paper continued working the story, finding that two of the huge marble dogs were keeping watch over the Kowloon on Route 1.

“We got a call from Chinatown asking us if we wanted (two of the old foo dogs),” said Stanley Wong, Kowloon’s co-owner. “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

Finally, the city has had enough. Both Menino and art czar (do you think her office is near the bike czar’s?) Julie Burns have laid down the law with the foo dog-napping contractor.

“If Mr. Pedini does not return the statues, we are prepared to take legal action against him,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s spokeswoman, Dot Joyce. . . .

In a letter sent to Pedini yesterday. . . Julie Burns wrote, “These statues should, at no expense to the City of Boston, be promptly and professionally crated and returned to F.A.E. Art Movers for continued storage pending appropriate re-settling of these items. At no time was permission granted by the Art Commission to remove the statues from storage.”

Now that Pedini has been formally asked to return the statues, surely he’ll buy a big roll of bubble wrap and send them safely back to Chinatown, right?

Yesterday a spokesman for Pedini, Joe Ganley, said that the contractor “hasn’t decided,” how to respond to the city’s demands.

Hasn’t Modern Continental taken enough from us? Like, a woman’s life and a good portion of the $14.6 billion the Big Dig cost? You can have the inferior new foo dogs taxpayers paid $4,800 a pop to make. Just give back our foo dogs.