A statue of a gnome stolen from a central Auckland art gallery has been found.
The $55,000 artwork was taken from its plinth outside the Gow Langsford Gallery on Lorne Street in the early hours of Christmas Day.
Gallery director John Gow said the statue was found at a Salvation Army store in Glen Eden this morning.
He was "positively ecstatic" when a fellow director phoned him with the news this morning.
"Having spoken to our insurance broker yesterday, who was uncertain we would be covered for an outdoor sculpture on a plinth, we were staring down the barrel of quite a heavy loss."
Neil Arnold found the gnome as he arrived to work at the Salvation Army store at 8.30am.
"I got out of my car, saw this thing by the door and thought it was some sort of joke as a welcoming thing by the new bosses," he said.
"As I got closer, I realised it must be the gnome that has been mentioned in the media."
Mr Arnold said there was a note attached to the statue stating: 'Please return to Gow Langsford Gallery'.
Police confirmed yesterday they were investigating the theft and were reviewing CCTV footage in a bid to identify the culprits.
Mr Gow said police took fingerprints from the statue this morning.
He said the security camera footage had shown three men.
Mr Gow said the statue would not be reinstated on its plinth, but displayed in the window of the Lorne Street gallery instead.
Future works displayed in the outdoor spot would be carefully selected and would require "serious heavy lifting gear," he said.
Mr Gow yesterday told the Five O'Clock Report the gallery had displayed artwork on the plinth at the corner of Wellesley and Kitchener Streets for 20 years, and it was the first time there had been any problem.