Staying power: City wants to move Charging Bull to NYSE along with Fearless Girl, but artist stands ground

Photo by Milo Hess
The city has decided to move the famed Fearless Girl statue from the narrow tip of Bowling Green to a safer location across from the New York Stock Exchange. The mayor wants to move the Charging Bull there as well, but its creator and owner is resisting.

BY COLIN MIXSON

The Charging Bull is standing its ground, despite the mayor’s push to move it.

After the city officially announced on April 19 that the Fearless Girl statue would be moved from Bowling Green to the New York Stock Exchange sometime this year, Mayor de Blasio’s chief spokesman tweeted that the Charging Bull statue would “almost certainly” join it on Wall Street, and blamed any delay in the move on the bull’s impressive girth.

“The Bull will almost certainly be moved — and will very likely wind up reunited with Fearless Girl,” Eric Phillips tweeted. “But it’s tricky and some things still need to be sorted out. Anyone who’s ever relocated a 7,000-lb bronze bull knows what I mean.”

But Phillips’s insinuation that the real hold up in the 900-foot trip is the size of the bull — which already made the move from the stock exchange to Bowling Green in 1988, by way of an NYPD impound lot in Queens — dodges the fact that de Blasio has no legal right to move the statue, and that its creator and owner wants his iconic artwork to remain in its current cobblestone pasture, according to his lawyer.

“The city has no right to unilaterally move Charging Bull,” said Norman Siegel, an attorney representing artist Arturo Di Modica. “They’re ignoring the rights of Arturo as an artist, and specifically it would be a violation of the copyright law and the Visual Arts Rights Act.”

State Street Financial, a multi-billion-dollar investment firm based in Boston, commissioned Fearless Girl from advertising agency McCann New York, to advertise one of its investments funds. The statue, which was installed at Bowling Green facing Charging Bull on the eve of International Women’s Day last year, became an instant success, generating 1 billion “Twitter impressions” in just the first 12 hours and providing $7.4 million in free marketing for the investment firm, according to an Ad Week report.

But the new feminist icon also created safety concerns by drawing large crowds of selfie-seekers to the narrow northern tip of the park, according to the mayor’s office, which indicated in February that the city was mulling over a move for Fearless Girl — and Charging Bull — to another, less precarious location.

Bowling Green Association President Arthur Piccolo, the driving force behind bringing Charging Bull to the small Downtown park three decades ago, said he would be more than happy to see Fearless Girl get the boot from the bull’s turf, and claims he was the first to suggest the area outside the stock exchange as a more suitable location. Not only would having the plucky girl face off against the nerve center of Wall Street better make the point about overcoming sexism in finance, he argued, but putting the internationally famous selfie magnet outside the otherwise nondescript stock exchange could help drive tourists there.

“Just looking at the stock exchange building doesn’t turn too many people on, and Fearless Girl will be the focal point of that area,” Piccolo said.

But taking the bronze bull with it is an entirely different story, according to Piccolo, who described the mayor’s slavish efforts to help State Street promoted a link between Fearless Girl and Charging Bull as a slight against a great New York City benefactor.

“Who is he to say they belong together?” Piccolo asked. “This is the mayor out of control. He’s going to destroy the meaning of a work of art that was one of the most generous gifts to the city.”

Di Modica, who lent Charging Bull to the city in the wake of the 1987 stock market crash but still owns the statue, sued State Street last year for copyright violation, arguing that by placing Fearless Girl in juxtaposition to his iconic bovine, the investment firm’s marketing campaign illegally appropriated his art and perverted the meaning of his statue from a symbol of American strength, to an emblem of misogyny.

Siegel sent a letter to the mayor’s office on behalf of Di Modica earlier this year, after news first broke that de Blasio was mulling the move, and offered to sit down with Hizzoner in order to hash things out.

Since then, the mayor has made no effort to contact Di Modica, or his representatives, a bizarre move for a sitting mayor, according to Siegel.

“Even the Giuliani or the Bloomberg administration, when we wrote to them, even if we didn’t agree, there would be some discussion,” Siegel said. “This is not the way government should operate.”

A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office would not discuss the mayor’s right to move the statue, or whether de Blasio had reached out to Di Modica.

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4 Responses to Staying power: City wants to move Charging Bull to NYSE along with Fearless Girl, but artist stands ground

  1. This exposes precisely why DeBlasio is such a fan of regimes like Castro and the Sandinistas – he shares their tyrannical impulses. I’m right, you’re wrong and consequently shut up and go away. Democracy; not really a thing for him and his ilk.

  2. Griz Downtown

    I call Bull* on DiModica. The City should charge DiModica rent for the space. I read that DiModica makes sure he gets the money off every sale of souvenirs or use of images of this sculpture that he originally dumped downtown as a publicity stunt. Some years ago it seems he tried to sell it for $5million; but the buyer would have to donate it to the City and there were no takers. Why buy his “poor abused artist” schtick. Certainly, he has a right to the images, etc. But to claim the City has no right to move it from a City Park to another location? Hubris.

    • The main thing is that the Bull is beloved by people. It’s like the Lipstick Building, or the knoll in the middle of Tompkins Square park. When something is “accidentally good” it should become protected. DeModica may be raking it in, now, but his original intent was good, and it cost him bundle at the time.

  3. Earl Sherman

    Leave the “Bull” where he is, but get rid of the “Girl.”

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