The Artist Behind Wall Street’s ‘Charging Bull’ Is Seeing Red Over a Plan to Remove the Sculpture From the Financial Hub

Arturo Di Modica isn't buying the city's explanation for moving his 'Charging Bull' to a spot outside the New York Stock Exchange.

Arturo Di Modica with Charging Bull. Photo courtesy of Geist MC.

For years, the massive Charging Bull sculpture has greeted tourists in Manhattan’s Wall Street district. It’s served as the backdrop for millions of selfies, many of them cheekily showing off the non-castrated animal’s anatomy from the rear. 

But it seems like the seven-thousand-pound sculpture, created by Arturo Di Modica, is getting ready to stampede to a new location, moving on from Bowling Green Park to an area nearer to the New York Stock Exchange.

“We are moving the Bull to protect the safety of New Yorkers,” said a spokesperson for the Mayor’s office in a statement to Artnet News. “We are finalizing a new location by the Stock Exchange.” 

The artist is steaming mad.

“I feel very disappointed about the way my sculpture is treated, with nothing but contempt and not the appreciation that should be, since Charging Bull became one of the most visited attractions of New York City,” said Di Modica in a statement given to Artnet News.

He says that the city is concerned about terrorism; they apparently cited a 2017 attack by a man driving a rented truck along the West Side Highway, less than two miles from where Charging Bull stands on a median in the middle of Broadway. In its new proposed location, fewer cars would be able to access the sculpture.

“Regarding the concern of Mayor Bill de Blasio and his position of moving Charging Bull for security reasons, I would like to respond that for 30 years, there were no accidents of any kind next to the sculpture,” says Di Modica.

Arturo Di Modica, Charging Bull (1989). Photo: Cap’n Surly, via Creative Commons.

The artist installed the bull overnight, guerrilla fashion, under a Christmas tree in front of the New York Stock Exchange in December 1989, calling it “a Christmas gift to the city.” For the artist, it signified the city’s resilience during tough economic times. It was impounded by the city until it got the imprimatur of Mayor Ed Koch and Parks Commissioner Henry Stern in an agreement that, says the artist, assured the bull’s location in perpetuity.

That’s not the only reason the artist objects.

“I would like to remind there is a control of my copyright and trademark of Charging Bull, he says. “Charging Bull cannot be used for any commercial purpose without my formal permission. NYSE is a company and placing Charging Bull there will void my copyright and trademark turning Charging Bull into the New York Exchange Bull.” The Stock Exchange is owned by Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange.

The creature has become embroiled in previous public debates, including in 2017, when the life-size sculpture Fearless Girl appeared across from the bull on the eve of International Women’s Day. First thought to have been placed there in another guerrilla operation, the sculpture, by artist Kristen Visbal, was soon unmasked as the brainchild of ad agency McCann New York and investment firm State Street Global Advisors as part of a campaign to land more women on corporate boards. (Spoiler alert: State Street turned out to be not so great when it came to gender or racial equity.) 

The arrival of Fearless Girl irked Di Modica, who maintains that the bronze lass turned his own sculpture into part of an ad campaign. He took legal action, retaining none other than civil rights crusader Normal Siegel to represent him. That led in turn to a tweeted criticism by Mayor Bill di Blasio, accusing Di Modica of not liking “women taking up space.” Ultimately, to better accommodate the crowds there headed there just to see her, the Girl moved to a spot across from the NYSE. (That means Charging Bull’s relocation would put the beast close, again, to his nemesis.)

The bull also recently fell victim to a bizarre attack, with a truck driver gashing it with a metal banjo (yes, really) while wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the Ten Commandments. In October, the bull was doused in fake blood and surrounded by protesters with the climate-change activist group Extinction Rebellion, some of whom staged a die-in, claiming that Wall Street profits come at the expense of climate refugees and mortalities.

“In this last 30 years, Bowling Green was and is the perfect home of Charging Bull, and I’m not approving Charging Bull being moved,” Di Modica said, “least of all to the New York Stock Exchange,” 

The proposal will be presented at a future Public Design Commission Meeting.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics