08/02/2011 04:01 EDT | Updated 10/02/2011 05:12 EDT

Jean-Paul Riopelle Statues, Stolen In Esterel Workshop, Recovered


ESTEREL, Que. - Quebec police have recovered a pair of massive bronze statues by Jean-Paul Riopelle that are worth about $1 million.

The behemoths -- each stands five feet tall and weighs an estimated 1,000 pounds -- were stolen on Monday in front of the workshop of the late artist in Esterel, about 100 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

Provincial police found the 48-year-old sculptures in a nearby wooded area on Tuesday but refused to say whether they had been damaged.

Before they were recovered, Sgt. Eloise Cossette said moving the works was difficult and it was clear they had been dragged along the ground before being stolen.

On Monday, passersby noticed the statues -- named "La Defaite" -- had been knocked down and were on their sides instead of their pedestals.

Later, a municipal security guard who patrols the village of 250 noticed three men milling about the statues and called police.

Police said by the time they arrived at the scene, the sculptures had gone.

Riopelle, one of Quebec's most celebrated artists, opened a workshop in the area before his death in 2002 at age 78.

This week's theft and recovery occurred just more than three months after a six-foot tall, 1,000-pound statue of Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, a French saint who founded a religious order, was stolen in Nicolet, Que.

The 85-year-old monument was later found intact at a recycling plant.