Charging Bull artist says Fearless Girl statue alters meaning of his work

Charging Bull vs. Fearless Girl

The Wall Street statue known as Fearless Girl will continue to stare down the Charging Bull for months to come. The little girl with her hands on her hips won a permit to spend another 11 months in front of that iconic bronze bull.

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Fearless Girl statue was installed by an investment firm in honor of International Women’s Day. Mark Lennihan, AP

The roughly four-foot statue has become a social media sensation and a major tourist attraction. But the artist behind the bull claims it alters the meaning of his work and infringes on his copyright.

For decades, the 7,000-pound bull dominated lower Manhattan all by itself, but since March 8, it’s been sharing space with a little girl with a lot of new friends – many of whom hope she stays right here forever.

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The Charging Bull and Fearless Girl statues in lower Manhattan  Mark Lennihan, AP

Fearless Girl began as a temporary installation, a stealth ad campaign for a financial company hoping to highlight the lack of women on corporate boards. But after weeks of adoring crowds, she now has a new permit to stand put through at least February 2018, reports CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil. 

“She spoke to the moment. That sense that women were not going to live in fear,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“Bottom line is she says women are strong, women are here,” said Kristen Visbal, the artist who created the statue.

But the Fearless Girl’s symbolic stare-down with Wall Street’s charging bull has morphed into a real world stand-off.

“They are transforming illegally the message of the bull,” said Arthur Piccolo, a spokesman for Arturo Di Modica, the Italian sculptor who made the bull as a symbol of hope.

“Now this girl is confronting this supposedly monstrous figure,” Piccolo said. “That’s an outrage — to take a great work of art and transform it.”

Back in 1989, the bull was considered the outrage, dropped illegally onto a public street downtown. Piccolo lead the campaign to give the statue its current home.

“You want the girl gone?” Dokoupil asked him.

“It would serve its purpose like nothing else right in front of the New York Stock Exchange,” Piccolo said, suggesting a nearby location. “The New York Stock Exchange represents most of those companies that have a problem with equality.”

“She has clearly struck a nerve. She has become an overnight sensation,” New York congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said.

Maloney and thousands of petitioners online are pushing to make the Fearless Girl’s message last forever – possibly in this very location.

“What would you say to people who think the bull was fine on its own, and the girl changes the meaning of that statue?” Dokoupil asked Visbal.
 
“You know, the world changes, and women are here. We are an integral part of the business community and we’re going to be even more important tomorrow,” she responded.

The Fearless Girl was commissioned by financial firm State Street Global Advisors. It declined to comment on the controversy or its hopes for the future of the statue. Representatives for the Charging Bull say they are reviewing their legal options.