'Charging Bull' Artist Arturo Di Modica Charges 'Fearless Girl' With Copyright Violation

Arthur Piccolo created this rendering of  The Fearless Girl  facing off with the New York Stock Exchange. Courtesy of Arthur Piccolo

Arthur Piccolo created this rendering of The Fearless Girl facing off with the New York Stock Exchange. Courtesy of Arthur Piccolo

There's a new battle brewing around 'Fearless Girl' days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio extended her stay in in Wall Street as part of the Department of Transportation art program. 'Fearless Girl' will be facing off against 'Charging Bull' through February 2018, while many officials look for a permanent home for Manhattan's young heroine. 

Sculptor Arturo Di Modica is unhappy with 'Fearless Girl' confronting his iconic sculpture, and his supporter Arthur Piccolo, chairman of the Bowling Green Association, argues that the new installation conspired to violate the existing copyright on 'Charging Bull' by creating what is now a new installation. Piccolo wants the statue installed at once in front of the New York Stock Exchange. 

Piccolo forwarded to ArtNet News a copy of an email sent to Bill De Blasio, mayor of New York; Michael Carey, the city’s executive director of the Office of Citywide Event Coordination; and two executives from financial firm State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), which organized the 'Fearless Girl' exhibition in lower Manhattan.

“I believe that the evidence will support that both of you, members of your staffs and McCann Advertising and their executives were involved,” wrote Piccolo, “in a highly coordinated carefully planned conspiracy to defraud Arturo DiModica of his copyright.”

“The ONLY reason 'Fearless Girl' was commissioned by SSGA was to be placed directly in front of 'Charging Bull',” argues Piccolo. In the current installation, the two statues are “effectively merged into a single image, inseparable from each other.”

Kristen Visbal's  The Fearless Girl  statue on Wall Street. Courtesy of Logan Hasson via Instagram.

Kristen Visbal's The Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street. Courtesy of Logan Hasson via Instagram.

In a New York Post interview on March 20, sculptor Di Modica complained that 'Fearless Girl' had made a mockery of his iconic 'Charging Bull' sculpture. Demanding that she be carted away immediately, the 76-year-old Sicilian immigrant said the bull is art, but the girl is -- well -- bull. "That is not a symbol! That's an advertising trick." he exclaimed, clutching his hear. 

 “Women, girls, that’s great, but that’s not what that (sculpture) is,” he said in an interview from his Church Street art studio.

The foundry that cast “Fearless Girl” Monday said the sculpture — based on artist Kristen Visbal’s design — was specifically meant to disrupt the bull.

“If I had made (Charging Bull), I’d be upset, too,” New Arts Foundry owner Gary Siegel told The Post.

Di Modica cast the bull as a gift to the city following the 1987 stock-market crash, believing the 7,100-pound symbol of unleashed testosterone would be an antidote to New York’s then flaccid, Low-T economy. It's important to note that he spent $350,000 of his own cash and then dropped the bull right in front of the New York Stock Exchange  -- without permission -- in December 1989.

Arturo Di Modica with  Charging Bull . Courtesy of the artist.

Arturo Di Modica with Charging Bull. Courtesy of the artist.

After an initial trip to Queens, the city installed 'Charging Bull' to move to its current location. Tourists routinely rub the bull's nose, horns and testicles for good luck, making the sculpture New York’s second-most popular sculptural attraction after the Statue of Liberty.

“I put it there for art,” he explained in The New York Post interview. “My bull is a symbol for America. My bull is a symbol of prosperity and for strength.” Some argue it worked: The sculpture did awaken the market’s “animal spirits,” judging by the generally bullish run stock market performance in the years since its arrival.

Di Modica has profited from licensing the work, to which he owns the copyright. But, he says, it’s unfair to compare his guerrilla stunt to State Street’s corporate marketing effort.

As the world -- and countless females of every age -- pays homage to 'Fearless Girl', Di Modica says the 50-inch girl all but vandalizes his work. She recasts his bull as a villain -- as the oppressor. "It would be as though someone put an AR-15 rifle in the hands of Michelangelo's David. " The artist added to the Post, that people should not have championed the girl as a symbol of female empowerment. "They made a mistake."

Most see 'Fearless Girl' as a symbol of standing defiantly in the fact of capitalism and the perceived corporate greed that dominated much of America's populist-sentiments presidential election. The bull was perceived as a negative piece of art in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and was part of this Adbusters campaign.

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Arthur Piccolo also shared his letter to 'Fearless Girl' artist Kristen Visbal:

Any competent sculptor would be embarrassed and regretful for having illegally taken another sculptor’s work and misused it for their own money making purposes. Obviously you do not deserve to be called an artist because true artists respect other artists’ work and would NEVER think of abusing another artist’s work for their own purpose worse completely destroying the meaning of the original work turning it into a negative image or as Mayor de Blasio has said representing “fear.”

Arturo DiModica’s magnificent Charging Bull which he generously donated to NYC at his own expense not like you you were paida huge sum by a large corporation which a very poor record of equality for women at their own firm which does not seem to bother you at all.

'Fearless Girl' artist Kristen Visbal

'Fearless Girl' artist Kristen Visbal

You were paid to turn a work of sculpture that for 27 years has represented the positive power of Capitalism and optimism for a better future and you have abuse Arturo’s work to make Charging Bull into scary animal that supposedly represents what is wrong with corporations that do not treat women as equals. SHAME ON YOU.

Your other comments to the NY Post are a mockery and complete con stating “The bull is beautiful, it’s a stunning piece of art,”  Really Then you go and vandalize its meaning forever !! And then stating Arturo “As an artist, he’s exceptional.”  Is that why you made sure NOT to tell him what you were going to do with Charging Bull and NOT seek his permission.

There is a very specific reason why you and the others involved in this desecration of Arturo’s work worked in compete secrecy to insure Arturo diModica and others would know nothing about it while you violated Arturo’s copyright. That smug look on your face in the NY Post article and your comment ” poor Arturo” in responseto his outage over what you have done label you for hat you are an exploiter.

The idea that if some other sculptor decided to use your Fearless Girl to turn her into some kind of negative image and mock your work and also do it in secret you would be complimenting them for abusing your work for their own purpose or allow them to do so is nonsense. Your comments are a perfect definition of hypocrisy.

If you are capable of any sincerity join us in agreeing to display Fearless Girl where she belongs where she an do REAL good standing in front of the New York Stock Exchange. With your approval that can bedone as soon as possible. See below.