The 400-plus-pound statue of 17th-century Indian warrior Shivaji Maharaj, missing from a park in San Jose since January, was found by Mercury News journalist Gabriel Lorenzo Greschler this week, he reported.
The massive metal and bronze statue had been stolen from Guadalupe River Park in San Jose since the end of January, with Maharaj and the horse that he was riding chopped off and removed from the bottom of the horse’s hooves, KRON4 reported.
Luckily, Greschler located it earlier this week next to a soda machine in the lobby of Tung Tai Group, a local scrapyard. After writing a story about the statue’s history last week, he tweeted Thursday, “I found the statue.”
Greschler reported that he found the statue “hours” after his article's publication, in the San Jose building just north of downtown and about two miles from Guadalupe River Park. Authorities were then notified, according to his story, and four officers came to Tung Tai Group to interview its workers, who reportedly said that two men and one woman dropped off the sculpture on January 29th.
No arrests were made at the time, Greschler wrote, and authorities took the statue back in a patrol car. According to KRON4, the statue is now at San Jose police headquarters.
Tung Tai Group has been cited numerous times for illegal activity, according to the Mercury News. Some of these incidents reportedly include a 2021 catalytic converter theft crackdown, a 2010 scheme to scam the state out of $1 million and a 2007 police sting to retrieve stolen metals.
The Mercury News also reported that this statue was a gift to San Jose from its sister city of Pune located in western India, delivered in 1999. San Jose groups, including the San Jose Pune Sister City organization, helped commission the statue and bring it to the city, calling it “the only statue of Shivaji Maharaj in North America.” To this day, the organization is on a mission to create and strengthen a “partnership between two cities at municipal level to promote cultural understanding and to stimulate economic development,” according to its website.
Suneel Kelkar from the group told KRON4 that the original artist of the sculpture in India unfortunately died a few years ago, so he’s not sure how the statue will get repaired and if it will be returned to the park.