New sculpture replaces one stolen from Toronto neighbourhood in 2020

·2 min read
Artist Lea Vivot sits with her new version of The Secret Bench Of Knowledge, which she made to replace one stolen in 2020. (CBC - image credit)
Artist Lea Vivot sits with her new version of The Secret Bench Of Knowledge, which she made to replace one stolen in 2020. (CBC - image credit)

The void left in a Toronto neighbourhood by the theft of a valuable sculpture just over two years ago has been filled, as the community welcomes a new one by the same artist.

In late August 2020, Toronto police said a number of suspects approached The Secret Bench Of Knowledge by artist Lea Vivot near Spadina Road and Strathearn Boulevard, removed the 220-kilogram sculpture and sped off in a white utility van.

"There was a vacuum, there was a void," Vivot told CBC Toronto. "Because especially during the COVID, people still could walk [around] and they [liked] to sit and have a conversation and read the messages [on the bench]."

Murray Goldman, chairman of The Goldman Group and owner of the original sculpture, recommissioned Vivot to build the new one.

"I am very grateful to Mr. Goldman, because he's a great philanthropist, and his family, they loved it so much that they asked me to replace it," Vivot said.

"Each of these sculptures takes approximately nine months, so I call them my children."

The bench holding the sculptures was also stolen, so Vivot has made one with the same messages as the original.

'We're lucky to have it here,' resident says

Tina Urman said "it was kind of sad" walking by where The Secret Bench Of Knowledge once stood and not seeing it.

"My daughter just sent me a picture recently when I was up north ... to say, 'It's back, they remade it,'" she said.

"We're lucky to have it here," Urman added. "I think it's very rare that people put real art out for everyone to see, and I love art. So, I think it's very special that they then took the initiative to put it there again."

Lynn Goldman, who is not related to Murray Goldman, also said she's happy to see the sculptures are back.

"[There] definitely [was] a void, because I walk here often and, you know, just  seeing that just would brighten our days," she told CBC Toronto.

"Especially in 2020, we'd go for lots of walks during COVID — and then it's gone. This is really great, a great surprise, really nice that it's back."

Police have not been able to recover the original sculpture, which had been in the community for almost 30 years before it was stolen.

An unveiling ceremony for the new bench is planned for this coming week.