Life-sized gorilla statue worth over £20k stolen from roof terrace of Soho hotel by thieves in high-vis jackets

Alistair Foster, Barney Davis
Lookout: "Ace" the gorilla by the hot tub on the roof of Karma Sanctum Hotel

A life-sized statue of a gorilla worth more than £20,000 has been stolen from the roof terrace of a celebrity hotspot in Soho.

The sculpture, nicknamed “Ace”, is 6ft tall and weighs 160kg. It had been at the Karma Sanctum Hotel in Warwick Street — whose guests have included Harry Styles and Britney Spears — since 2013.

But at about 9am on Saturday, November 5, two men dressed in hard hats and hi-vis jackets were allegedly seen unscrewing Ace from his rooftop lookout over the hot tub.

When challenged, one of the men laughed and told the hotel’s florist: “We’re removing this for my garden.”

Builders in a neighbouring building are then alleged to have unwittingly aided the thieves, who pretended to be doing work for the Karma Sanctum.

The sculpture had been at the Karma Sanctum Hotel in Warwick Street

Mark Fuller, the hotel’s CEO, said the builders offered to help get the fibreglass statue through their site. “They allowed them access to the stairs but the two guys couldn’t physically get it down themselves so two or three builders offered them a hand,” he said. “They were very embarrassed after. They carried it down the internal stairs as a favour.”

Witnesses said the thieves left the statue in Warwick Street until a white van pulled up outside the HQ of Sony Records and drove away with it. The heist took less than an hour.

Pop star Britney Spears has been a guest at the hotel (PA)

Mr Fuller said: “It’s a unique piece of art. We want him back where he belongs — keeping an eye on the people in the hot tub.”

The statue, which has a sleeve on its arm painted by tattoo artist Dan Gold, cost £11,000 to install. There is no CCTV on the roof terrace as it is a private area for members and hotel guests, open 24 hours a day.

The hotel’s CEO, said builders offered to help the men get the fibreglass statue through their site

Mr Fuller said: “We are completely perplexed at how they’ve managed it. It’s a 6ft gorilla, so will have taken some careful manoeuvring to get it out of the building.”

A builder working on an office block next door but one said he saw the gorilla being carried down to the street. “It was huge, bigger than me,” he said. “Two guys I didn’t recognise were in charge — it looked very heavy. It was strange to see but there is so much work to do. I saw it on the street and then it was gone.”

A site manager said: “Builders are very helpful people. All the guys here help everyone out. It’s not the first time someone got in a hi-vis to steal and people believed them. There’s so many things going in and out of the building you just don’t think they might be stealing it. It’s brazen.”

The statue was bought for Mr Fuller’s previous nightspot, Embassy in Mayfair, but moved when it shut five years ago.

A spokesman for the Met said police had received an allegation of theft and inquiries were continuing.