Saturday, March 02, 2024 |
Share this story
One of two individuals recorded near the site of the theft last Friday.
The item stolen last Friday is a replica of a traditional Hawaiian feather helmet.
Artist Rick San Nicolas, who crafted the item stolen last Friday from Volcano House, poses in 2015 alongside an art piece unrelated to the theft.
A piece of art stolen from the Volcano House hotel last week has an estimated value of more than $30,000.
At about 11:45 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, a replica of a mahiole — a traditional feather helmet worn by Hawaiian chiefs — was taken from the lobby of the hotel in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The item, which was displayed in a case near the hotel’s front desk, was the only thing reported stolen.
Artist Rick San Nicolas, who made the helmet almost 20 years ago, said the piece is worth more than $30,000 because of the materials it’s composed of.
“This was the second helmet I made,” Nicolas said. “I’ve made many since then, but this one has handwoven out of Hawaiian ‘ie‘ie roots.”
‘Ie‘ie is a plant endemic to the Pacific Islands whose roots were traditionally used by Native Hawaiians to weave items such as baskets and helmets.
“The weaving alone takes a lot of work, but it also means you have to find and gather the ‘ie‘ie to make it, and that takes weeks of work, at least,” Nicolas said. The feathering, which Nicolas did using dyed goose feathers, took “a couple hundred hours,” as well.
Volcano House purchased the mahiole around 2018, Nicolas said, after he had joined an artist-in-residency program at HVNP through the National Park Service in 2014.
“It’s amazing to me that somebody could just walk out of the building holding it without anyone noticing,” Nicolas said. “But if they knew the place, and it happened at night, then if you just get outside a little ways, it’s pitch black.”
HVNP spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said the National Park Service has jurisdiction over the area, and is investigating the case through its own law enforcement officers. HVNP on Thursday released images from surveillance video taken at the hotel and requested public assistance in identifying possible suspects.
The images are blurry and indistinct, but appear to depict a man and a woman near the hotel’s front desk at the time of the theft. The woman appears to be wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and pants with a camouflage pattern.
Less can be discerned about the man, although he seems to be wearing dark clothes, a backpack, a baseball cap and a blue covering over his lower face, and is holding a bright red cloth of some kind.
The day after the theft, Volcano House announced on Facebook that it is offering a $500 reward for the safe return of the piece, calling it “a part of the Volcano House for many years.”
“I hope there can be enough eyes on this that people will see it if someone tries to sell it online or something,” Nicolas said.
Anyone with information about the incident or the suspect’s identities can contact the National Park Service at (888) 653-0009 or at go.nps.gov/SubmitATip, or Volcano House at (808) 930-6902.
Email Michael Brestovansky at email@example.com.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *