The missing head of Mephistopheles from the commemorative stone monument to Johann Wolfgang Goethe in the Villa Borghese gardens has been recovered. Stolen on 29 October, the head was recently discovered in relatively good condition by police. After a cleaning process by expert restorer Stefano Lanuti the head is due to be reinstalled during January 2011.
Donated to Italy in 1903 by Emperor William II of Germany, the monument was created by German sculptor Gustav Eberlein (1847-1926) and is located on the avenue dedicated to Goethe on the corner of Viale S Paolo del Brasile. In Eberlein's sculpture Goethe is depicted standing on a large Corinthian base, surrounded by statues portraying characters from his writings. A demonic figure from German folklore, Mephistopheles originally appeared in literature as the demon in the Faust legend, and later featured in the work of Goethe.
A large fragment cut from the neck of the statue during the robbery was found by technicians from the ministry for cultural heritage. The ministry has announced that it is to step up security in the vicinity by increasing the amount of surveillance cameras around the many monuments in Villa Borghese. Previously stolen in November 1972 the head was recovered by police at the time.