For the last three months, Philippe had been working secretly in his suburban garage, of an evening, on a Valentine's Day gift for the lucky lady who has been his wife for the last 20 years. Here's a photo of the object, taken by one of Philippe's colleagues (in his cleaning firm) just as he was getting ready to leave the gift in a special place where his wife was sure to find it early yesterday morning, on her way to work.
So, in the early hours of yesterday morning, Philippe left his giant padlock on the Pont des Arts. (The article doesn't say so, but I would imagine that Philippe used a conventional padlock to attach his sculpture to the bridge.) Then he went into a nearby café to wait until the precise moment at which he would wander nonchalantly out onto the bridge to meet up with his wife, on her way to work, and to participate in her joy at discovering her husband's marvelous Valentine's Day gift.
Alas, when Philippe returned to the bridge, half-an-hour later, at the time his wife was due to appear there, his giant padlock had vanished. Either it had been appreciated by a passer-by who stole it (a vagrant could sell the object as scrap metal and earn enough to buy a bottle of cheap wine), or maybe rather not appreciated at all by a passer-by who threw the object into the Seine.
To my mind, the story could have ended in a romantically-dramatic fashion. Philippe, driven to despair by his failure to transmit his message of love to his wife, might have jumped into the Seine. In actual fact, the article reveals that Philippe is already looking into a repeat performance of his gesture of love, in a year's time... when he plans to attach his new sculpture more securely to the bridge, and then wait around discreetly until his wife has arrived on the scene and witnessed the existence of her husband's gift. But will it still be a secret operation?