A battle is heating up between two iconic New York statues, the legendary Charging Bull and new kid on the block Fearless Girl, with gender equality, artistic integrity and copyright issues at stake.
The Italian-American artist who created “Charging Bull,” which has stood south of Wall Street for nearly 30 years, alleged Wednesday that Fearless Girl breached his copyright, distorted his artistic message and should be moved elsewhere.
“It’s really bad,” a frail Arturo Di Modica, 76, told reporters, his voice thick with emotion and barely audible. “She’s there attacking the bull,” he added.
The Italian-born sculptor created his bronze bull, which was installed in December 1989, as a celebration of the can-do spirit of America to counter the 1987 Wall Street market crash.
The work of US artist Kristen Visbal, the bronze Fearless Girl was installed last month, standing defiant, hands on hips and chin jutting out, directly challenging the bull.
Erected initially for a week and commissioned by a Boston-based investment company to create awareness of the need for greater gender diversity on company boards, Fearless Girl became an overnight sensation.
It has come to be seen around the world as a defiant symbol of women’s rights — considered by some under threat by President Donald Trump, the Republican property tycoon who won election in November despite the emergence of a video showing him bragging about groping women.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a vehement Trump critic, has since announced the bronze girl statue will remain in place until at least March next year.
But Di Modica’s lawyers say the bull no longer carries a positive, optimistic message but “has been transformed into a negative force and a threat.”
“Very simply we request respectfully that the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue be removed,” lawyer Norman Siegel told a news conference.
“None of us here today are in any way not proponents of gender equality but there are issues of copyright and trademark that needed to be and still need to be addressed,” he said.
The firm that commissioned the statue made no immediate comment but has a powerful ally in the form of the New York mayor.
“Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl,” de Blasio tweeted Wednesday.
Siegel called for damages for the “violation” of Di Modica’s statutory rights, urging the mayor and company chief executives to come together to find an amicable solution.
“Fearless Girl,” he suggested, could be relocated outside any number of New York firms with poor records on gender equality, or indeed in any other US city.
The bronze girl became so popular that thousands of people signed a petition demanding it remain permanently.
But Di Modica’s lawyers questioned whether the city should have granted the permit and said the firm behind it was using public property for commercial advertising.
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