Wall Street’s Bull Charges into Dubai

The sculptor behind the iconic New York street art plans to leave his mark on Dubai
Italian-American artist Arturo Di Modica has been working on a new ‘Charging Bull’ sculpture for the past few months in his Soho, New York studio. The 71 year old is determined to find a local buyer for the piece, which is worth up to $4 million.

Di Modica became famous after he created the original 3.5 tonne, bronze charging bull sculpture in 1989 with his own money and installed it in the middle of the night opposite the New York Stock exchange in a defiant response to the infamous stock market crash two years previous. Since it was not commissioned by New York City as public art, the bull was seized and impounded by the police. However, public outcry from New Yorkers forced the Parks and Recreation city authorities to reinstall it. However, they refused to put it back on Wall Street so instead they placed the now iconic tourist attraction in Broadway’s bowling green, steps away from Wall Street.

In the coming few months, he says he will “drop” the 11 ft high, 16 ft long sculpture in the city before November of this year, regardless of whether or not its sold. He was in Dubai recently to scope out possible locations to place the sculpture.

The statue personifies financial optimism and prosperity (the combination of “bulls” and “bears”) so it seems that Dubai’s International Financial District would be an obvious choice.

Di Modica went on to create the Shanghai Bull of the same size in 2010, and in total has six pieces from his bull collection, including the latest one, destined for the UAE.

“Unlike the reddish tone of the bull in Shanghai, the one for Dubai will be sand coloured, to reflect the UAE’s desert location,” Di Modica explained.

Referring to himself as “the crazy artist from Soho,” Di Modica certainly lives up to his title. Don’t be fooled by his frail appearance, he is as mischievous as ever, recalling stories of how his temper can often get the better of him, “I once drove my Ferrari into a Manhattan restaurant because I had a disagreement with the owner. I revved the engine a few times so the customers knew to move out of the way and then I put my foot down and drove straight through the window,” he recalled. And on another occasion he drove his supercar onto the pavement where revelers waited to get into a nightclub after he was refused entry by door staff.

So it comes as no surprise when Di Modica says that he will “risk arrest” to drop his new bull sculptor in a public location in the middle of the night without permission from the UAE authorities. Two of his life-size works, the bull and the horse in stainless steel are already in the UAE as private collections. His interest though is in public sculptures, he said.

“Dubai definitely needs more sculptures. I have been here twice so far and have witnessed the development. The tall structures need sculptures around to create a dynamic environment. There are too few sculptures and not as large. We need sizes at least three metres up,” he said.

When asked how sculptures interact with a society’s consciousness, he said it differs from region to region.
“New York has a different dynamism as does Shanghai. These cities need to be educated to commission such large sculptures so people are forced to stop, look and study the piece. Maybe even touch them.
“The point is to slow people down to admire something that may not be in their line of work.”

According to Di Modica’s representative in the Middle East, Dyanna Sidiropulo, the hope is that the ageing artist won’t have to go to such “extremes” to get his work on public display here.
She is in negotiations with potential buyers from the UAE who will hopefully commit to investing in the piece under the condition that it’s not hidden away.

“That is why he is not in museums. He wants to have his work interact with the public and in a large space,” Sidiropulo explained.