It’s a battle of two sculptures, and two ideals: “Charging Bull,” a 7,100-pound symbol of brash financial optimism, and “Fearless Girl,” a four-foot emblem of female empowerment. The two bronze sculptures stand, face-to-face, in the heart of Wall Street in New York’s Bowling Green Park.
While “Charging Bull” was originally installed as a piece of guerilla art after the stock market crash of the 1980s, “Fearless Girl” was added on International Women’s Day just last month. Now, Charging Bull sculptor Arturo Di Modica wants the statue of the young girl removed, saying it violates copyright and was placed there for commercial gain.
In a letter sent to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and provided to PBS NewsHour, Di Modica’s lawyers argue that the placement of Fearless Girl violates the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, which protects artists against distortion or modification of their work. The statue of the girl, they write, was clearly derivative, and also intentionally alters the bull’s positive message.
The letter also maintains that the sculpture was put there for commercial purposes. State Street Global Advisors, an index fund, commissioned Fearless Girl with the help of the advertising firm McCann New York; the fund also placed a plaque before the statue with “SHE” written in capital letters — its ticker tape symbol.
“We write to you now in hopes of finding a way to amicably resolve these violations,” the lawyers, led by New York-based attorney Norman Siegel, wrote to the New York City mayor.
But hours after Di Modica and Siegel held a news conference Wednesday, de Blasio indicated that he may be of little help to the Charging Bull sculptor, tweeting, as others did Wednesday, support of Fearless Girl.
Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need the Fearless Girl. https://t.co/D2OZl4ituJ
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 12, 2017
Siegel, Di Modica’s attorney, was not amused.
“So Bill de Blasio is now transforming into Donald Trump Jr.,” Siegel told the NewsHour, in a reference to the president’s habit of tweeting his displeasure on various topics.
“[De Blasio] is not addressing the issues here, of whether or not there is copyright or trademark infringement, and what due diligence did the city of New York do to granting the permit,” Siegel said. “Shouldn’t they address those issues instead of making some kind of political statement?”
De Blasio’s office responded to request for further comment by pointing NewsHour back to the mayor’s tweet.
As for the index fund, State Street wrote in a statement that it was “grateful” to the city of New York for its support of what the Fearless Girl represents: “the power and potential of having more women in leadership,” it said.
Siegel told NewsHour they would try to reach an agreement outside of court, and if not, decide whether to litigate the issue.