Bullshift! City may try to move Charging Bull statue

The city may try and move Bowling Green’s iconic Charging Bull statue to a new location along with the Fearless Girl statue, whose position at the narrow northern tip of the park has raised safety concerns.
Associated Press / Mary Altaffer

BY COLIN MIXSON

Mayor de Blasio is reportedly mulling an attempt to move Bowling Green’s iconic Charging Bull statue in order to accommodate a Boston-based investment firm’s wildly successful marketing gimmick — the Fearless Girl statue that suddenly appeared opposite the bull nearly a year ago.

A recent report in Adweek cited multiple anonymous sources saying that both de Blasio and State Street Global Advisors have agreed to make the Fearless Girl statue a permanent New York City fixture — albeit someplace other than the narrow northern tip of Bowling Green.

The Fearless Girl statue’s popularity has created traffic safety concerns around the plaza’s narrow, cobblestone tip, which is flanked by Broadway on both sides, and visited by hordes of selfie-seeking tourists every day, and officials are mulling whether to redesign the space, or move both Fearless Girl and Charging Bull — now considered inseparable by the de Blasio administration — to another more safe location, according to Adweek.

Artist Arturo Di Modica self-financed his 3.5-ton brass bovine to the tune of $360,000 and installed it outside the New York Stock Exchange without a permit in 1989, where it was meant to evoke America’s indomitable spirit as an encouraging message in the wake of the 1987 stock market crash.

The statue was quickly removed by the authorities, but soon found a new home at Bowling Green thanks to the advocacy of Arthur Piccolo, the current president of the Bowling Green Association, who tracked Di Modica down to his studio in Lower Manhattan and convinced him that the nation’s first public park would be a perfect home for the now iconic statue, he said.

“We had this wonderful plaza with no purpose, and Arturo — in this incredible act of generosity — agreed to keep it here forever,” Piccolo recalled.

Photo by Milo Hess
The hordes of selfie-seekers the Fearless Girl statue draws to the narrow tip of Bowling Green has led the city to want to move it — but since the sculpture derives most of its intended meaning from its position opposite the Charging Bull statue, the city may try to move them both together.

Piccolo condemned any effort to move Charging Bull away from Bowling Green, while calling for Fearless Girl’s removal from the public park, describing the feminist icon as little more than a commercial for an out-of-state investment firm.

“It’s a marketing tool!” he said.

Indeed, a plaque once prominently embedded in the cobblestone beside Fearless Girl marketed State Street’s “SHE” fund, which the investment firm launched in 2016 to track the performance of US companies with the highest levels of gender diversity in their sectors. The statue also generated an estimated $7.4 million in free marketing for State Street in the first 51 days after it was installed, according to a Bloomberg report.

Piccolo also called State Street hypocritical for its own abysmal record when it comes to gender diversity — only three of State Street’s 11 board members are women, and among its 28 top executives, only five are women. Furthermore, the multi-billion-dollar investment firm was forced to pony up $5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by female employees who accused State Street of paying women less than men, according to a Fortune report.

“De Blasio is dealing actively with this multi-billion company up in Boston, which had to settle a case where they discriminated against women,” Piccolo said.

If the city does end up deciding to move the statues, it may find itself in a fight with Di Modica, who has already filed a lawsuit against State Street claiming damages for its co-optive placement of Fearless Girl opposite his Charging Bull, which he says makes it derivative of his capitalist icon and is an attempt to change the bull’s meaning into a symbol of misogyny.

“The inescapable implication [of Fearless Girl] is that the ‘Charging Bull’ is the source of that fear and power, and a force against what’s right,” Di Modica’s attorneys wrote to the investment firm last spring.

Despite an attempt in 2004 to sell the statue to a donor, who would then turn over ownership of the bull to the city, Di Modica still retains ownership of the statue, and may choose to pull the bull from the city altogether if de Blasio continues his push to make his work subordinate to the girl, Piccolo said.

“The mayor of the city has no right to move the bull,” said the Bowling Green advocate. “I would strongly advise him not to put up with that girl being permanently in front of it — it destroys the purpose of the bull to serve a private company.”

The Architects Newspaper is reporting that the New York Stock Exchange building at 11 Wall Street is the city’s likely choice for a new location.

Di Modica could not be reached for comment before deadline, and a lawyer for the artist did not return calls for comment.

3 Responses to Bullshift! City may try to move Charging Bull statue

  1. The statue was quickly removed by the authorities, but soon found a new home at Bowling Green thanks to the advocacy of Arthur Piccolo

  2. Despite an attempt in 2004 to sell the statue to a donor, who would then turn over ownership of the bull to the city, Di Modica still retains ownership of the statue, and may choose to pull the bull from the city altogether if de Blasio continues his push to make his work subordinate to the girl, Piccolo said.

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