Seattle police have recovered one of two bronze gates that stood at the entrance to Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum for a generation.
Both gates, designed by the internationally renowned sculptor George Tsutakawa, were stolen the night of March 18. One was cut up for scrap. The remaining gate is largely intact and can be repaired.
Gerard Tsutakawa, George’s son, made the gates from his father’s design. He still has his father’s original drawings for the gates and would be willing to consider making a new mate for the survivor. “Of course I would,” Tsutakawa said Friday. “I would certainly consider rebuilding them.”
The theft was discovered March 19 when gardeners arrived for work and discovered the gates missing and bolt-cutters on the ground, said Ray Larson, curator of living collections at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. Thieves also stole downspouts from the visitors center.
Known as the Memorial Gates, the artwork was commissioned in 1971 by the University of Washington and the Arboretum Foundation as a memorial to all who have loved and cared for the arboretum. Considered a community treasure, the gates are an irreplaceable signature of the park. The ceremonial gates are at least 20 feet wide.
The case was assigned to a detective, who discovered that two suspects had attempted to sell scrap brass from the stolen gate and downspouts at a local recycling business. The business refused to buy from the suspects, according to Seattle Police Detective Mark Jamieson.
Detectives obtained physical descriptions of the suspects, as well as a description of the vehicle they were driving, from the business’s employees.
On Thursday, detectives located a person of interest in the case and brought him to the East Precinct for an interview. The person provided information that led detectives to the location where the gate was recovered. On Friday, Seattle Parks staff met with a detective and took possession of the remaining gate. One of the gates was destroyed by the suspects, who cut it down for scrap. The other gate remained mostly intact.
Detectives are still attempting to locate an additional suspect in the case, which remains an active and ongoing investigation.