The sculptor who created the “Charging Bull,” the famous bull statue in New York’s financial district said that “Fearless Girl,” the newly installed statue placed near his statue, is violating his rights.

Arturo Di Modica claims that the city and an investment company is violating his rights by placing the Fearless Girl statue near his creation without his permission. The artist held a news conference in Manhattan, where he said that his statue “Charging Bull” was installed in front of the New York Stock Exchange in 1987 as a symbol of the country’s resilience after the stock market crash that year. The city then relocated the famous bull to a park nearby. The statue has since become one of New York’s most visited attractions.

Charging Bull
“The bull represents strength,” said Di Modica, according to USA Today. “The strength of America, the strength of the market.” Image credit: Sam valadi/Flickr.

‘Fearless Girl’ was installed as a symbol for gender equality 

On the eve of International Women’s Day last month, “Fearless Girl” was installed in front of Di Modica’s “Charging Bull”. State Street Global Advisors, a Boston-based company, commissioned the statue to be built and placed in the city’s financial district. The decision came as support for the company’s campaign to ensure that corporate governing boards feature diversity of gender.

The statue, featuring a small girl with her hands placed defiantly on her hips, was created by artist Kristen Visbal, and it has rapidly become a symbol for lack of gender equality and diversity in Wall Street and other U.S. companies. Tourists and residents have fallen for the little girl statue, and a petition from asking for “Fearless Girl” to become a permanent statue on the district received thousands of signatures.

Fearless Girl statue
Fearless Girl statue. Image credit: Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on March 27 that the sculpture would remain on Department of Transportation property as part of a municipal art program until February 2018.

The decision was praised by many, but not by DiModica, who claims that the fearless girl statue alters the artistic message behind his creation without his permission. Furthermore, Di Modica’s attorneys said that the new statue infringes on a trademark and copyright owned by Di Modica.

The artist’s attorneys added that a plaque placed with the new sculpture demonstrated the commercial nature of the installation. The plaque said “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.” The “she” in the plaque referred to the financial trading symbol for a State Street Global Advisors fund.

According to Norman Siegel, attorney for Di Modica, when placing one statue near the other, everything changes.

“The statue of the young girl becomes the ‘Fearless Girl’ only because of the Charging Bull: the work is incomplete without Mr. Di Modica’s Charging Bull, ad as such it constitutes a derivative work,” wrote Siegel in a letter to Ronald O’Hanley, CEO and president of the investment firm.

Similar letters were sent to de Blasio and McCann Worldwide, the company responsible, according to Di Modica’s attorneys, for developing an ad campaign for “Fearless Girl.” The attorneys also filed Freedom of Information Act requests with several New York agencies, to seek paperwork and records related to the authorization, location and installment  for “Fearless Girl”.

Di Modica would file lawsuit if necessary

Siegel, which was formerly the head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said that Di Modica seeks an amicable outcome in which “Fearless Girl” is moved elsewhere. The artist also seeks compensation for infringement damages. However, the lawyer said that the case could end up in court if it’s necessary. 

Siegel clarified that Di Modica is not trying to criticize “Fearless Girl” as a newly appointed symbol for women’s rights and power.

“None of us here today are not in any way opponents of gender rights,” explained the lawyer.

State Street told NBC news in a statement that it continued to be grateful to the city of New York for their response and acceptance of the “Fearless Girl” statue. The company said that they are greateful that people were enthusiastic about what the statue represents, which is the power and potential of having women in leadership.

This is not the first time that Di Modica has claimed copyright infringement over his bull sculpture. In 2009 he sued publisher Random House, claiming that a picture of “Charging Bull” on the cover of a book about the collapse of Lehman Brothers infringed on his copyright of the artwork. The case was later settled in 2010, as shown by federal court records.

The artist also filed a lawsuit against Walmart in 2006. The suit claimed that Walmart had used the image of his bull sculpture in television programs, photographs, commercials and other events without his permission. The infringement case was also settled in court, federal court records show.

Source: USA Today