By Rhonda Richford
Early in his career he played a cop in the film The Thief Catcher, and now it looks like Charlie Chaplin — or at least his Oscar — needs one.
The first of the actor’s three Oscars was stolen in a targeted break-in at the offices of the Chaplin Association by knowledgeable thieves in late January, newspaper Le Parisien reported. The statue, valued at over $1 million, was lifted along with a set of pens valued at $90,000 (€80,000) each.
"The perpetrators of the break-in targeted only those objects and nothing else. They were perfectly informed," an unnamed police source told the newspaper. The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an official inquiry, and the special police task force from the repression of banditry brigade (BRB) in charge of art thefts is leading the investigation.
The offices of the Swiss-based association, which protects Chaplin’s name and image, as well as works to restore and archive his films and continue education about the actor, are just blocks from the Louvre.
Police are reportedly looking at organized theft rings, as well as collectors who might have a special interest and have been handing the case with the “utmost discretion,” which is why they have not publicized the case until now.
The missing Oscar was an honorary award given at the first Academy Awards in 1929 for Chaplin’s “versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing” The Circus that year.
He was awarded a second honorary Oscar in 1972 for what the academy called his “incalculable effect in making motion pictures the art form of this century,” and for which he received a 12-minute standing ovation. He won again the following year for best score for Limelight.
Watch a scene of Chaplin in Gold Rush: