In the East Village, A Cownapping

Sunburnt CowSophie Hoeller The cow in question, prior to its abduction.

Have you seen this cow?

If you’ve strolled around the East Village in the past two weeks, you may have seen the “Missing Cow” flyers plastered on lamp posts and telephone poles. The cow in question, named Bessie, was stolen from its home on the awning outside The Sunburnt Cow, an Avenue C bar, in the early hours of Oct. 17. The theft has left the tavern’s owner, Heathe St. Clair, to wonder, where’s my beef?

Mr. St. Clair is offering a $500 reward for the safe return of the plastic light-up cow, which marked his bar and served as a distinctive beacon near the intersection of Avenue C and East Ninth Street. The two-foot tall orange and black bovine hung from the bar’s exterior, emitting an orange glow that, Mr. St. Clair’s posters attest, “lit the way for party people and seekers of great Australian food and booze.” Bessie was “a tiny landmark, a bright light on a once dark street.”

This is the third time in seven years that the statue was stolen from the Australian watering hole. After the bar first opened in 2003 an original Bessie, a gift from one of Mr. St. Clair’s friends, disappeared and was never recovered. Then earlier this year “Bessie II” was stolen by rival nightlife promoters, but was later found in a neighboring garden.

Two weeks after the theft, we followed up with Mr. St. Clair on the search’s progress. Despite the flyers, he has yet to find any leads, “The evil cownappers have made no ransom demands or made any contact,” he said. “Nobody’s talking, which leads me to think it was an outside job. Someone not from the neighborhood.”

Though his flyers have a tongue-in-cheek tone, describing Bessie as, “five years of age…medium build, white hair, black eyes, plastic skin,” Mr. St. Clair is genuinely distraught over her sudden disappearance. Bessie had sentimental value, covered as she was — or as Mr. St. Clair puts it, “tattooed” ––with the signatures of patrons and friends of the bar. Looking at her picture he playfully commented, “Look at her, she’s hot.”

He has two people scouring the Internet for a replacement cow, but says, “It’s really hard. The cow’s been discontinued. We’re contemplating having it made.” At the moment Mr. St. Clair says he is at a loss as to how to fill the void left by the miniature bovine. Yet he remains undeterred, “I’ll put another one out if I can find it. If I find three or four of those I would buy them and just keep them as back-ups.” But, for now Mr. St. Clair is just waiting until his cow comes home.

Sunburnt CowSophie Hoeller The owners of the bar have posted “Missing Cow” flyers around the East Village seeking information about the lost sign, which was nicknamed Bessie.