Tuesday night, a gang of thieves broke into the castle owned by Michael Flatley, the star of Lord of the Dance.
Flatley and his family were at home in Castle Hyde, when they heard intruders in another part of the house. Police were called, but thieves still managed to make off with one item — a single rhino horn, valued at over $400,000. Police believe the rhino horn was the target of the break in and was the only item taken during the invasion.
While the thieves are still at large, the rhino itself is not a suspect, because according to reports, the horn was sawed off of a mounted rhino head on display in the Irish performer’s “safari room.” Police are focusing their investigation on an organized crime syndicate, who are suspected in thefts from more than 60 museums and private collections across Europe in the last three years. The horns are swiped and sold on the black market, where due to their high demand in Asia where they are crushed and sold as medicine, they’re worth their weight in gold.
Since news of the theft broke, Flatley has come under criticism for having a “safari room” filled with animal trophies in the first place. Rhinoceros are a protected species, but the illegal trade of horns continues. John Carmody, founder of the Animal Rights Action Network, published an open letter to Flatley pointing out that, although he was robbed, he wasn’t the rightful owner of the horn to begin with.