Who stole Jim Morrison’s bust?

Photomontage of a thief and Jim Morrison's bust

The backstory

Croatian artist Mladen Mikulin sculpted a bust effigy of Jim Morrison for his grave in Père Lachaise cemetery. The bust was in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Jim’s death on July 3, 1981.

It disappeared in 1988.

Before and after

Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1986 a
1986 August © Arthur Krasinsky
Jim Morrison Grave Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris 1988 b
1988 © W. J. Sawchuck


A piece of the puzzle

Film director and screenwriter, Olivier Chateau, has been researching the history of Jim’s grave for several years and is one of the foremost authorities on the subject.

He has graciously provided a very rare document from his collection that sheds some light on the mystery surrounding the stolen bust. Following is the article and photo—as it appeared in the French magazine, Globe*—exposing the two guilty parties. By their own admission.

Many thanks to Olivier for this most welcome contribution.

Who stole Jim Morrison's bust?
The interview and photo of the two anonymous fans who stole Jim Morrison’s bust. Published by the French magazine, Globe*.

English translation

X and X exhumed Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison, Morrison the god, was removed from his pedestal. Two of his most ardent fans willingly became delinquents for love.

They stole the bust that sat proudly on the grave of the Doors’ singer in Père Lachaise during the night on May 9, 1988**.

They took off with a 280 lb stone on their motorcycle simply because they couldn’t tolerate the burgeoning cult devoted to their idol.

The idea that beautiful Jim would become a cheap Mona Lisa, at the mercy of postcard vendors, was intolerable.

Even worse, the bust effigy became a monument to be photographed in front of, to write one’s name on, and even to take away souvenirs in small pieces (the nose and the mouth have disappeared).In short, sacrilegious behavior in complete contradiction with the beliefs of their master that they deem to be the new Rimbaud.The bust is now safe from any desecration in their apartment.

Jim Morrison is the myth of the moment right now, everyone’s talking about him, for the occasion, Christian Bourgois is reissuing An American Prayer, his label will reissue a CD, Best of The Doors, and Ivan Passer is preparing a movie on the life of their idol. To Nathan using him in their advertising.

Text : Olivier Besson
Photo : Antoine Le Grand

Original text in French

X et X ont déterré Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison, le dieu Morrison, a été enlevé de son piédestal. Deux de ses adorateurs les plus fervants n’ont pas hésité à devenir délinquants par amour.

Ils ont volé le buste qui trônait sur la tombe du chanteur des Doors au Père-Lachaise dans la nuit du 9 au 10 mai 1988**.

Ils sont partis avec 128 kg de pierre sur leur moto tout simplement parce qu’ils ne supportaient pas le culte niais que l’on vouait à leur idole.

L’idée que le beau Jim soit devenu une Joconde de pacotille à la merci des marchands de cartes postales leur était insupportable.

Pire encore, le buste à son effigie était devenu un monument devant lequel on se fait photographier, sur lequel on écrit son nom et même qu’on emporte en souvenirs par petits bouts (le nez et la bouche ont disparu). Bref autant de choses profanatoires en contradiction totale avec la pensée de leur maître qu’ils qualifient de nouveau Rimbaud.Le buste est maintenant à l’abri de tous ces actes sacrilèges dans leur appartement.

Jim Morrison est vraiment le mythe du moment, on ne parle plus que de lui, Christian Bourgois en profite pour rééditer An American Prayer, sa maison de disques pour ressortir un CD des Best of des Doors et Ivan Passer pour préparer un film sur la vie de l’idole. Jusqu’à Nathan qui l’utilise pour sa pub.

Texte : Olivier Besson
Photo : Antoine Le Grand

* The exact date and issue to be confirmed.

** The letter from Père Lachaise curator, G. Martin, to Mladen Mikulin—dated April 7, 1989—states March 1988 as the date the bust was stolen. (Source: Mladen Mikulin, The Portraitist of Jim Morrison)

8 thoughts on “Who stole Jim Morrison’s bust?

  1. By the way it must have been the eighties when I visited the first two times since the bust went missing in the 80-ties.


    1. What a terrible tragedy. I’m sorry to hear that. Thank you for the information though. Much appreciated to have a follow-up on the story.


    2. I visited the grave several times. The first time and the second time was in the 90ties. Then the sculp was still there. Fans at that time misbehaved at the cemetery. There was graffiti all over the place. Arrows pointing at Jim’s grave. The sculp was also victum of graffiti. I felt ashamed for this even while I didn’t do this myself. There where always lots of hardcore fans they said they where sleeping there to guard the grave, drinking, partying, maybe using other drugs. There was a lot of things happening which should not happen on a graveyard. Not very respectful. I even heard a story the the cemetery waa considering to remove Jim’s remains because of the so called nuisance. Last time I was there was December 2019. I was very disappointed to find that the sculp was gone. It was also surrounded by crush barriers. It is not a grave which Jim deserves anymore. A big person like Jim deserves a monument. Now it is just another grave at Pere la Chaise.



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