- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

The case of the missing life-size sculpture of a woman — known to many in the art world as “Legs Crossed” — has ended with its recovery and the arrest of a suspect.

Fairfax County police have charged Michael Star, 45, of Herndon, with grand larceny after police raided his apartment Thursday and found a number of reportedly stolen items, including the sculpture.

Mr. Star, who lives in the 2300 block of Rolling Fork Circle, is being held without bail at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

Made of polyester and resin, “Legs Crossed” is a 5-foot-2 brunette with blue eyes. The figure is sunbathing in a black-and-white halter top and a pair of black shorts. It has human hair and prosthetic eyes and is worth about $38,000.

“Legs” has often created a buzz in the art world. It has drawn record crowds when it appeared at art galleries or art shows throughout North America, says its creator, Marc Sijan.

“I hear people saying the only thing the sculpture is missing is a pulse,” Mr. Sijan said. I’m working on that.”

“Legs” has also been known to start arguments and even bets among its admirers.

“I hear people arguing whether it is real or not all the time,” said Mr. Sijan, who lives in Wisconsin. “Sometimes people will argue and say to me, ‘We have a $5 bet going if this is real or not.’”

But her most recent appearance — and disappearance — from the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival at the Reston Town Center might put her tour on hold, for now.

Police say Mr. Star picked up the 40-pound “Legs” from Mr. Sijan’s display area during the festival May 23 and carried it away from the outdoor center, at 11921 Freedom Drive.

“I was in shock when it was missing,” said Mr. Sijan, 57. “I was busy with a customer, turned to look, and it was gone.”

Several people saw a man carrying the sculpture, but no one realized it was being stolen.

“I heard reports that this guy was walking down the street and someone at a Starbucks pointed and said, ‘Look at this guy carrying this girl,’” Mr. Sijan said.

The man and “Legs” were last seen near Market and Explorer streets before vanishing.

“We are so used to seeing people walk off with art at these shows that no one thought anything of it,” said Carol Nahorniak, a spokeswoman for Reston Town Center and Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival.

Mr. Sijan said his wife immediately called police to report “Legs” missing.

County police didn’t waste any time. They sent out one of the county’s police helicopters to assist in the search.

But police found no traces of it or the thief, until 12 days later when a search of Mr. Star’s home uncovered the sculpture and other items authorities say were stolen.

Mr. Sijan didn’t know “Legs” had been located until yesterday when police called him.

Mr. Sijan is now working with police to bring “Legs” home.

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