Charging Bull, Iconic Downtown Sculpture, Will Be Moved From Its Famous Spot
The de Blasio administration is planning to move Charging Bull, the 7,000-pound bronze sculpture that has become a magnet for tourists, from its 30-year home on a triangular strip along Broadway near Bowling Green to an area near the New York Stock Exchange.
On Wednesday, Annie Colarusso, a representative from the Mayor’s Office, reached out to Arturo Di Modica, the 79-year-old artist who created and gifted the statue to New York City in 1989. In an email provided to Gothamist, Colarusso wrote that she was “reaching out to coordinate the relocating of the Charging Bull sculpture to a more secure location in the Financial District.”
In a follow-up email exchange, Colarusso said that city officials had identified Charging Bull’s current location as a “high-risk location” that was vulnerable to vehicular attacks, due in large part to the tourist crowds.
Following an assessment of high-risk locations in the wake of a 2017 terrorist truck attack along the West Side Highway, the NYPD installed temporary concrete blocks to protect the area, according to Colarusso.
She said that in contrast to the current location, the area around the New York Stock Exchange is “composed of pedestrianized streets that are already ‘hardened,’ or protected, against vehicular threats.”
The only problem, according to Arthur Piccolo, the chairman of the Bowling Green Association who has served as a steward for the work, is that Di Modica does not want the statue moved.
Criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio, Piccolo said the city has no right to move the work.
He added that this is not the first time city officials have approached Di Modica about relocating the bull.
“They’ve pestered Arturo for years,” Piccolo said. “He had me call them a few years ago.”
Efforts to reach Di Modica were unsuccessful.
A slick rendering released last year by the Downtown Alliance of a more pedestrian-friendly design that would provide a “sense of place” around the Stock Exchange includes the bull on the corner of Wall and Broad Streets.
Andrew Breslau, a spokesperson for the Downtown Alliance, said the group has publicly stated for for several years that it would like to see the bull moved based on safety concerns. However, he said the organization never lobbied the de Blasio administration.
As to why the bull had been included in the rendering, he said, “It was just a vision of what the area could be. It was a rendering of a possible future look.”
Back in 2017, another bronze sculpture, Fearless Girl, which had been placed in opposition to the bull, was moved closer to the stock exchange after city officials expressed concerns about crowds blocking traffic. (Prior to that, Di Modica had objected to Fearless Girl’s placement, saying it altered the message of his work.)
Ironically, Charging Bull was originally planted in front of the stock exchange by Di Modica himself. The Sicilian-born artist, who was then working in SoHo and secretly deposited the statue overnight as an early Christmas gift, described his work as a symbol of the ”strength and power of the American people.”
But according to a NY Times story, the work was not received well. The NYPD viewed the bronze artwork as a traffic obstruction without a permit, while stock exchange officials immediately hired a trucking company to cart it away. In an interview with the Times, Sharon Gamsin, a spokesperson at the exchange, referred to the sculpture as ”The Beastie.”
”We were concerned about safety, security, public access,” she said. ”That’s a very busy thoroughfare.”
Working with the city’s Parks Department, Di Modica later arranged to have the bull moved to where it currently stands.
But now, the stock exchange is reportedly offering to pay to move the sculpture back.
Over the years, the bull has been an enduring symbol of Wall Street, and in the process become an object of tourist photos as well as protests. Just last month, the bull was splattered in fake blood and dirt as part of a climate crisis demonstration.
In September, in the first damaging incident, a man repeatedly smashed the bull with a metal banjo, resulting in a six-inch-long gash as well as other dents in its right horn.
Last month, Di Modica personally flew from Italy to New York City to oversee the repairs.