Charging Bull, Symbol of Wall Street’s Roaring Market, Will Remain in Place After a Vote Nixes New York Mayor de Blasio’s Plan to Move It
The committee that oversees the installation of artworks on city-owned land voted unanimously against the mayor's plan.
The Public Design Commission of New York, which reviews the installation of all artworks on city-owned land, has rejected mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to relocate Charging Bull, the famous bronze statue by Arturo Di Modica, to the New York Stock Exchange.
The artist, who spent $350,000 to make and install the sculpture as a guerrilla artwork in 1989, had argued that moving it would transform it into an advertisement for the stock exchange, which would violate his copyright.
“The local community residents and Mr. Di Modica, who were resoundingly opposed to this move, successfully advocated that the iconic Charging Bull should remain in its present location at Bowling Green,” Manny Alicandro, the artist’s lawyer, told the New York Post.
“We are reviewing the feedback from the commission and determining next steps. The bull poses a serious safety risk—that is our priority,” wrote Jane Meyer, the mayor’s deputy press secretary, in an email to Artnet News.
De Blasio and officials from the Department of Transportation said the work created a pedestrian safety hazard, and the NYPD had previously expressed concern that crowds drawn by the artwork could inspire a terrorist attack.
“For 30 years, there were no accidents of any kind next to the sculpture,” Di Modica told Artnet News last year. “Bowling Green was and is the perfect home of Charging Bull, and I’m not approving Charging Bull being moved,” he added, referring to the park where the statue lives.
After the artist first installed the work outside the New York Stock Exchange in 1989, it was quickly removed, but community activists convinced then-Mayor Ed Koch to let the bull stay. But while it has the blessing of the Parks Department, the city doesn’t own it, and the bull never went through the official channels of the Public Design Commission, as the city charter requires.
Charging Bull first came to De Blasio’s attention in 2017, when financial firm State Street Global Advisors installed Fearless Girl opposite the sculpture on International Women’s Day.
Fearless Girl became a viral sensation and De Blasio extended the work’s permit—much to Di Modica’s chagrin, who complained that the new statue transformed the bull into a villain. A year later, the city agreed to move Fearless Girl to a new permanent home outside the New York Stock Exchange. A press release confirming the move revealed that the city was also considering “a similar move to the vicinity of the stock exchange for the Charging Bull statue.”
The Department of Transportation renderings for moving the sculpture presented two possible orientations for Charging Bull.
“The fact that you don’t know which way to face the bull shows there is no context. It’s really ugly,” Laura Starr, the former chief landscape architecture of the Central Park Conservancy, said at a May community board meeting on the subject, as reported by ARTnews. “I think the bull belongs where it is, with its leafy background.”
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