Little Mermaid statue beheaded again in Denmark

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s Little Mermaid statue, beloved symbol of fairy tale innocence, fell victim Tuesday to cynicism — decapitated by vandals who apparently called a cameraman to witness their work.
It was the second time in 33 years that the statue’s head was sawed off. The bronze statue of a mermaid gazing wistfully out to sea has also had an arm sawed off and her neck slashed.
Police and dogs combed the statue’s harborside park for clues Tuesday, while divers searched the gray, frigid waters. They were watched by Danes shocked by the damage to their city’s symbol and by tourists disappointed to find their sightseeing ruined.
The bronze statue, based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, is one of Copenhagen’s top tourist draws. There are few daylight minutes when someone is not posing for a snapshot beside it or clambering up on its rock.
Police found two hacksaw blades Tuesday in the water near the statue. But it was not known if they were the blades that inflicted the damage, and police reported few clues.
There is an outside chance the vandals could be identified from a videotape. Michael Poulsen, a freelance cameraman, received two anonymous pre-dawn phone calls telling him to come see what had happened to the statue.
When he arrived, he taped two young men who taunted him from a distance that he was too late, then rollerskated from the park, laughing.
“The Mermaid has a symbolic value like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Big Ben in London,” said Lars Bernhard Joergensen of the city’s tourism office.
In 1983, the mermaid’s right arm was sawn off and never found. Seven years later, a long cut in her neck was discovered and welded, leaving an almost invisible scar. No one was ever arrested in either case.
It will cost $10,300 to $14,000 to replace the head, city officials said Tuesday.
The statue, by Edvard Eriksen, was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen, founder of the Carlsberg breweries, and erected in 1913. Inspired by Andersen’s tale, it depicts the mermaid who falls in love with a prince, but must wait 300 years before she can become human.