A Truck Driver Attacked Wall Street’s Iconic Charging Bull Statue With a Spiked Banjo, Leaving It With a Huge Gash

The attacker allegedly cursed President Trump’s name while beating the mammoth bronze sculpture.

The brass Charging Bull sculpture stands near the Financial District April 2, 2018 in New York City. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images.
The brass Charging Bull sculpture stands near the Financial District April 2, 2018 in New York City. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images.

New York City’s bronze Charging Bull, a symbol of Wall Street power, was damaged yesterday when a man repeatedly attacked it with a metal banjo while cursing President Trump’s name. 

Onlookers watched with cell phones aloft as the man repeatedly bashed the sculpture. They were unsure whether the act was a work of performance art or simply violent vandalism. In the end, the bull was left with a six-inch gash and several scratches, according to reports.

Shortly after the incident, authorities arrested Tevon Varlack, a 42-year-old truck driver from Dallas, charging him with criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, and criminal possession of a weapon (which, it seems, is the banjo, which was metal and had sharp edges). After spending the night in jail, Varlack appeared for arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on Sunday. 

Varlack, wearing a white t-shirt with the words “Let Us Not Forget The Ten Commandments,” gave no motive for his actions. (The shirt may be a reference to Moses’s anger at the Israelites for worshipping a golden calf.) Varlack was released without bail and is due back in court on October 16. Judge Althea Drysdale ordered him to stay away from city landmarks in the meantime and warned him, “Do not go back and visit the bull.”

The three-and-a-half-ton bronze bull has stood on Broadway outside the New York Stock Exchange since December 1989 when its creator, sculptor Arturo Di Modica, illegally installed the piece as a political gesture. Modica intended for the sculpture to be a beacon of optimism in the wake of the Black Monday stock market crash in 1987. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination for selfie-takers and a symbol of Wall Street bravado. 

“The guy wanted publicity and he did it for publicity,” Di Modica told the New York Post of the vandalism. “He knew he was going to be arrested and he knew he was going to be in the paper.”

Di Modica estimated that the damage would cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to repair. Fernando Luis Alvarez, a Connecticut-based gallerist who represents the artist, plans to drive to New York to inspect the work in person. He suggested to the New York Times that restoration would likely run at a higher cost, somewhere between $75,000 and $150,000.

Attorneys from Manhattan Criminal Court told the Post that they would seek financial restitution from the attacker. 

The bull has been vandalized before. In 2008 and 2017, it was splattered with blue paint. And in 2010, the artist Jessie Hemmons covered the sculpture with pink crochet.


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