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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Firm to Replace Stolen Duck Statues




Novodevichy Park will soon be graced with a new Mrs. Mallard f to be cast from the same molds by the Boston artist who made the originals f thanks to the efforts of a Massachusetts native who runs a small investment firm in Moscow.


A statue of Mrs. Mallard f who led her ducklings through Boston traffic in Robert McCloskey's 1941 children's classic "Make Way for Ducklings" f was stolen from Novodevichy in February. Two ducklings, Lack and Mack, were also nabbed, presumably for their value as scrap metal.


The ducks had been gifts from former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush in 1991, after her Soviet counterpart Raisa Gorbachev admired the originals in the Boston Public Garden during a visit a year earlier.


According to The Boston Globe, Beth Hebert, a native of Needham, Massachusetts, went to Novodevichy Park in February to take a picture of the ducks for her mother, who had read the story to Hebert when she was a child. The thefts left her crestfallen.


"After the theft, they looked so lonely, like they had been orphaned," said Hebert, who runs Pallada Asset Management. Only Jack, Kack, Nack, Ouack and Pack remained (another duckling, Quack, was stolen in 1991).


Hebert went to work convincing State Street Bank, the principal owner of Pallada, to help pay for replacements.


State Street agreed, and now West Newton, Massachusetts, sculptor Nancy Schon is at work on another series of ducks. Schon crafted the originals in Boston and the first set sent to Moscow, and she is using the same plaster molds this time. Delivery is expected in August.


Hebert, who has a 1-year-old daughter, said local children adored the Moscow ducks.


"There isn't anything like them, so they were a huge hit," she said. "Kids were always all over them."


Schon was saddened by the theft.


"I was devastated when I heard they'd been cut off at the knees and that Mrs. Mallard had been taken," she said.


State Street is paying $30,000 of the $50,000 cost for the replacements, said George Russell, the company's director of community affairs and global philanthropy.


Mrs. Bush sent the ducks to Moscow to commemorate the U.S.-Soviet arms treaty known as START I. A plaque in front of them reads: "This sculpture was given in love and friendship to the children of the Soviet Union on behalf of the children of the United States."


Raisa Gorbachev died last year. Officials at State Street hope her husband, Mikhail, will attend the ceremony marking their return.


"Make Way for Ducklings" told the story of Mrs. Mallard's journey with her ducklings from the Charles River to the new home Mr. Mallard has found for them, on an island in the middle of the Boston Gardens' pond. The statue shows the ducks marching to their new home.


Schon recalled working with a combined American-Russian crew to install the sculptures in 1991 as one of the highlights of her life.


"It was amazing how wonderfully we all worked together," she said. "It was a reminder to me that, despite our governments, people basically love each other."