You are here

'Fearless Girl' to move, and she may take the Wall Street bull with her

fearless girl.jpg
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio posing next to the 'Fearless Girl' statue in New York in March 2017.

[NEW YORK] She stared down the iconic "Charging Bull" of Wall Street - and now she could make it move.

The statue known as "Fearless Girl" will soon be moved from its spot at the southern tip of Broadway to a spot facing the New York Stock Exchange, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday. And if the city has its way, the bull will eventually go with her.

Though visitors had posed with the bull for years, larger crowds had gathered since the "Fearless Girl" statue, commissioned by State Street Global Advisors, a Boston-based financial firm, was placed in front of the bull at the narrow corner atop Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan last March.

So after deciding to allow the sculpture - placed temporarily at the spot - to remain for a year, city officials came to the conclusion that the number of pedestrians spilling into the streets created a safety hazard. Also, after the deadly attack with a truck last year in Lower Manhattan, officials said they worried that crowds around the two statues could present a tempting target for a terrorist behind the wheel.

Market voices on:

The new location by the stock exchange is an area that is already heavily restricted to traffic, where huge numbers of pedestrians but few cars pass through.

"I am thrilled 'Fearless Girl' will remain in New York," Kristen Visbal, the sculptor behind the roughly 50-inch-tall (about 1.3 metres), 250-pound (113 kg) bronze statue, said in a statement released by City Hall.

Not included in the news release, which quoted the financial firm's president and various elected leaders: the artist Arturo Di Modica, who created the roughly 7,000-pound bronze bull and, in 1989, deposited it downtown without permission.

Di Modica was not pleased when "Fearless Girl" appeared nearly 30 years later, and in an emotional news conference last year threatened to go downtown and turn his bull around, so that it would no longer be facing the new statue. His lawyers have argued that "Fearless Girl" had altered the meaning of the original work, and that the city infringed on the artist's rights in doing so.

"The idea of connecting the two statues together is the legal vulnerability that the city has had for 13 months," said Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer representing Di Modica.

"This once again is an example of wealth and power taking precedence over what is right and fair," he added, citing the city's apparent consultations with both State Street and the New York Stock Exchange, which issued its own news release on Thursday welcoming the "Fearless Girl" statue.

Siegel said that he and Di Modica have been discussing whether to go to court to keep the bull in place. "The message to Mayor de Blasio is that you have no right to unilaterally move the bull," he said.

"They don't own the statue."

Fernando Luis Alvarez, the owner of a Connecticut gallery where Di Modica shows his work, defended the bull as a symbol of optimism and said the meaning of the original had been distorted.

"It's not about gender," he said. "It is really disgusting how political this has become."

The decision to move the statues is not part of de Blasio's commission on monuments, which met several times and, after recommending that the statue of 19th-century surgeon who conducted experimental operations on female slaves be moved from Central Park, disbanded.

If the bull were to be moved to the area in front of the stock exchange, it would be a return of sorts: Di Modica originally placed his artwork there under cover of night. The police at the time said it was a traffic obstruction; it was later moved to its current location.

A spokesman for de Blasio said that it was important to the mayor, who has posed with "Fearless Girl" and spoken of its meaning to young women and girls, to keep the two works together.

"The mayor felt it was important that the 'Fearless Girl' be in a position to stand up to the bull and what it stands for," said Eric Phillips, the mayor's press secretary.

"That's why we're aiming to keep them together. The bull has also always been a traffic and safety issue the city's hemmed and hawed over. The moves achieve a few goals."