Two deny theft of £500,000 sculpture from former home of Henry Moore

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Two men have appeared in court and denied the theft of a sculpture taken from the former home of British artist Henry Moore.

Liam Hughes, 22, and 19-year-old Jason Parker are both charged with stealing the Sundial sculpture and a bronze plinth, Hertfordshire Police said They appeared before magistrates in Stevenage yesterday and both entered not guilty pleas, a police spokeswoman said.

The Sundial, created by Moore in 1965 as a working model for a larger sculpture, was taken from the grounds of The Henry Moore Foundation in Much Hadham, Herts, overnight between July 10 and 11.

Said to be worth up to £500,000, the distinctive bronze artwork was found at an undisclosed location after a televised appeal for information last month.

The Sundial is among a string of works by the Castleford-born artist, who died in 1986 aged 88, to be targeted by thieves in recent years. Hughes and Parker, both of Coltsfield, Stansted, Essex, have been bailed to appear in Crown Court on September 28.

The Henry Moore Foundation carried out a security review following the theft of the two-ton Reclining Figure in December 2005. In 2010, Moore’s £45,000 painting, Three Reclining Figures On Pedestals, was one of three works of art worth a combined £230,000 stolen from a gallery in Broadway, Worcestershire.