Missing: one statuesque brunette, 5 feet 2 inches tall with blue eyes, abducted Sunday afternoon from Reston Town Center. Witnesses say she was carried off by a man now wanted by Fairfax County police.
The woman, last seen wearing a bikini, goes by the name "Legs Folded." That's according to Marc Sijan, the Wisconsin artist who spent six months painstakingly crafting the life-size, eerily lifelike image out of poly-resin.
Sijan was displaying his sculptures at the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival when he realized that "Legs," a work of figurative realism valued at $38,000, had been plucked off its pedestal and carried off by an admirer.
Several witnesses recalled a man who scooped the 40-pound sun worshiper up in his arms and strolled away. Investigators reasoned that no one had a clue the sculpture was being pinched.
"There were dozens, if not hundreds, of people there," Fairfax County police Sgt. Jeff Gossett said. "Someone carrying that life-sized sculpture down the street, you'd think it would be easy to spot. . . . But it didn't draw the right attention because no one called us."
But it definitely drew some attention. Customers at a nearby Starbucks were apparently startled to see a man strolling down the street, a woman -- ostensibly alive -- perched effortlessly on his hip.
Police responded to the report of the theft with the urgency of a real missing person report, dispatching a helicopter to scan the crowd and fanning out across the outdoor mall in search of the man. He was described as a white man in his forties or fifties, about 5 feet 6 inches tall with blond and gray hair and one woman in tow.
Perhaps it was a testament to Sijan's skill that no one noticed the theft of a pretzel-bent piece of statuary.
"I'm assuming he carried her like a newlywed," Gossett said. "Like a groom carrying her over the threshold."
Interviewed yesterday by phone from his home in Milwaukee, Wis., Sijan said he was still in shock, floored that someone would walk off with his work, a piece so realistic Sijan said she has "fingerprints."
"I can't imagine someone picking [the sculpture] up in front of 100 people and walking off down the street" said Sijan, who has displayed his work in 45 solo museum exhibitions across the country. "People must have assumed he'd bought it."
So who does buy an arresting, ultra-realistic statue that seems to freeze motion, detailed right down to the lipstick, eye shadow and laugh lines? Lots of people, said Sijan, who added that he has sold dozens of similar works since 1978 and counts actor Sylvester Stallone and Walt Disney World among his collectors.
Sijan said each work of art takes months of labor. Except for the clothes, the hair -- which is real -- and the prosthetic eyes, the sculpture is entirely his creation, right down to the laborious hand painting.
"Legs Folded," named for her pose, was fashioned to resemble a friend, then 21, the artist said. Sijan's other sculptures, some of which are on permanent display in museums, include a three-dimensional portrait of the artist's father -- a security officer -- and a biker standing next to a motorcycle.
Yesterday, Sijan was fixed on one goal: "I just want the piece back."