The widow of renowned artist Jean-Paul Riopelle believes the thieves who took his million-dollar sculptures Monday night had no idea of their value and they just planned to sell the bronze.

"My biggest fear was that it was already on its way to be melted down," Huguette Vachon said Tuesday.

The sculptures placed together on a pedestal make up a work Riopelle titled La Défaite (The Defeat). They were stolen from outside the late artist's workshop in Estérel, about 100 kilometres north of Montreal.

Police said they were loaded into a van by three men, even though they weigh about 450 kilograms.

They were found Tuesday abandoned in the woods, but they had been broken into four pieces.

"Even in pieces, I am very, very, very happy [to have them back]," Vachon said.

Art dealer Simon Blais said the fact the two sculptures were broken in half, "means they were trying to make the thing easier to carry, and to sell just for the weight in bronze.

"Fortunately it was found quickly. That tells you they were petty thieves."

Blais said the bronze would be worth about a $1,000 if it were melted down.

The sculptures are being sent to Montreal to be restored, which Blais said is relatively easy with bronze.