A thief steals three sculptures of the hand of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei knocking down the bird from the gallery

Light Fingers: A thief steals three sculptures of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s hand knocking down the bird from a German gallery

  • Dissident artist’s work worth £24,000 ripped from shelves in broad daylight
  • Alarm at chic Lumas Galerie in Hamburg did not go off, MailOnline staff say
  • Glass hands pointing to a series of middle finger protest photos banned in China
  • Mr Ai first swore in Tiananmen Square, where students were killed in 1989
  • His most valuable work sold for over £18million in London seven years ago

A trio of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s glass hands were pinched in a downtown gallery in broad daylight this week.

Police in Hamburg, Germany, asked for information yesterday after the artworks were snatched from the Lumas Galerie in the Neuer Well shopping street.

Each of the colored hands was on sale for €9,500 (£8,000) on the Lumas website, bringing the theft to just under €30,000 (£24,000).

The centerpiece of the gallery, the glass hands were kept in public view. A member of staff told MailOnline that the alarm protecting them had not gone off.

Gallery staff told MailOnline the glass hands were in public view and fitted with an alarm

They were withdrawn from sale this afternoon.

According to the Hamburg police, the light-fingered thief acted alone. The robbery took place Monday between noon and 6 p.m.

The acclaimed artwork references Mr. Ai’s “Study of Perspective” photo series (1995-2017), in which the rebellious artist took photos with his middle finger pointed at landmarks.

The first image was the most controversial, a shot of Tiananmen Square on a gray day.

Exiled Weiwei, 64, was referring to student protests in 1989 in which unarmed protesters were killed.

Ai Weiwei (left), pictured in a selfie with a fan, was jailed in China for 81 days in 2011

Ai Weiwei (left), pictured in a selfie with a fan, was jailed in China for 81 days in 2011

The chic art gallery and retailer in Germany's second city has taken hands off its website

Lumas is home to dozens of works of art worth tens of thousands of euros

The chic art gallery and retailer in Germany’s second city has taken hands off its website

The popular image is banned from printing and sharing on social media in China.

Months after helping to design the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Mr Ai was the target of a series of politically motivated lawsuits.

Weiwei spent 81 days in jail in 2011 for tax evasion. He was held in a windowless cell less than 4m by 4m (170 square feet).

The renowned entertainer was accompanied by two guards at all times and had to ask permission to drink water.

Mr Ai is pictured at an exhibition of his work.  His art has been exhibited in museums around the world, including the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Guggenheim.

Mr Ai is pictured at an exhibition of his work. His art has been exhibited in museums around the world, including the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Guggenheim.

Ai helped design the iconic Birds Nest Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Games in Beijing

Ai helped design the iconic Birds Nest Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Games in Beijing

After retrieving his passport from authorities in 2015, Weiwei resettled in Germany before moving to Cambridge.

In the same year his set of a dozen sculpted bronze animal heads sold for over £18 million at the Phillips Auction House in Mayfair.

Due to strict privacy laws, German police rarely provide CCTV or crime scene photos before cases are closed.

Lumas Galerie Hamburg has decided not to comment.

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