Someone kidnapped the kitschy little statue that serves as the mascot and good luck charm at Barbes bar.
The bust of a mustachioed Venezuelan healer-turned-cult figure Jose Gregorio was swiped from the Ninth Street bar earlier this year, and loyal regulars are now on mini-manhunt for a “creepy, hipster-looking” suspect who was “like, lingering over the statue.”
The theft might be a prank, but bar owner Olivier Conan doesn’t think it’s funny. The stubby little thing has sentimental value and Conan just wants it back — no questions asked.
Jose Gregorio was a 19th-century doctor who, legend has it, performed miracles. He was a loner who treated the poor for free, studied at a monastery and died in a tragic car accident. In the statue, he is depicted with dark eyebrows, a yellow tie and sad brown eyes.
“I feel a kinship to him,” said Conan, who bought the thing from a botanica a decade ago, when he was feeling like a loner, too. “I just want him to reappear exactly where he disappeared.”
The statue had been perched in the window between the bar and the concert room for nine years, bringing the arty crowd of Latin music fans and stylish musicians good mojo. But then on Jan. 10, a slow Monday night, it went missing — and a real-life who-dunnit ensued.
Only four people were in the bar’s concert hall in the back, including one tall and drunken 20-something who “looked affected” and “stood with alone a slouch,” said waitress Grace Kendall, who was working that evening. The man had a haircut that seemed plucked from the cast of “Boardwalk Empire” and he “gave off weird energy,” Kendall added.
“I got a bad feeling from him,” recalled the gumshoe booze-slinger, adding that he was hovering over the statue, near the bar’s more-typical 50-something crowd. “He was out of place.”
Soon after, bartender Justin Lane Briggs noticed an empty spot in the window, where the statue once stood.
“It was a ‘gasp’ moment,” Briggs said. Sure enough, Gregorio was gone.
Kendall grabbed a napkin off the bar and jotted down a description. “Retro hair cut. Tall and lean. Grayish blue eyes. Light blonde hair.”
Owners then posted an urgent message on the bar’s website with a photo of the statue alongside red text. “Kidnapped!” it read.
The bar’s Facebook page went on to implore patrons to keep an eye out for the statue, explaining the mystery of its disappearance.
“Sounds like a Hardy Boy’s book,” said composer Michael Hearst, who performed at the venue last week. “We certainly miss Mr. Gregorio.”
Another regular, Norma Rodriguez, has her own theory about what might have happened. “It could be like one of those gnome jokes,” she said. “But there should have been a ransom note by now.”