Wall Street's Charging Bull artist says Fearless Girl statue violates his rights

The Fearless Girl statue stands across from the iconic Wall Street charging bull statue in New York City. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The sculptor of Wall Street's "Charging Bull" statue is seeing red over New York City's decision to keep in place the "Fearless Girl" statue that now stares it down, saying his legal rights were violated.

The city's ruling to let the bronze depiction of a defiant girl remain until February 2018 just feet from the bull's flaring nostrils should be reviewed, said a lawyer for sculptor Arturo Di Modica.

"How did the process happen and should permits be revoked?" the attorney, Norman Siegel, said in an interview on Wednesday, adding that his client ought to have been consulted.

"He should have been asked, never was," Siegel said. "There are copyright and trademark infringement issues."

The 127cm-tall girl stands fists on hips on a cobble stone plaza, eye-balling the 3.4m bull that has occupied the space in Manhattan's financial district for nearly three decades.

Initially installed to mark International Women's Day on March 8, the girl statue was meant to be removed on April 2. But the city extended its stay amid ebullient interest on social media, generous press attention and at least two petitions.

State Street Global Advisors, a subsidiary of State Street Corp, said it financed the installation by artist Kristen Visbal to highlight the need for more women on corporate boards. Twenty-five per cent of the largest 3,000 US companies have no female directors, State Street noted at the time.

But Siegel said the intent was less high-minded. "They did it for commercial purposes," Siegel said.

A plaque originally placed at the girl's feet read: "Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference."

It refers to an exchange-traded fund dubbed "SHE," which invests in companies with women in top executive posts.

"They have since taken the plaque away," Siegel said. "Which acknowledges perhaps it never should have been there in the first place."

Siegel said he has filed Freedom of Information requests about the permitting process have been filed with the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city Department of Transportation and the Street Activity Permit Office.

He hopes to avoid going to court but is drawing up the paperwork in case negotiations hit a dead end, he said.

"First, we will try to see if we can resolve this amicably," Siegel said.

The 3,200kg bull itself originally appeared as guerilla art, installed unofficially in front of the New York Stock Exchange by Di Modica in 1989 and intended to convey the fighting spirit of the United States and of New York. After police seized the sculpture, public outcry led the city's parks department to reinstall it days later nearby at its current location.

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