‘Fearless Girl’ statue faces possible eviction as permit expires

Posted On Thu, December 2, 2021 By

Posted On Thu, December 2, 2021 By In Art, Financial District

Image via Anthony Quintano’s Flickr

In 2018, 6sqft reported that artist Kristen Visbal’s “Fearless Girl” statue was on the move to her current spot across from the New York Stock Exchange. Now, the diminutive statue is in the news once again, as her time there may be drawing to a close. The statue’s permit with the Landmarks Preservation Commission expired on November 29, and with a city hearing scheduled for December (or even later), the fate of “Fearless Girl” is not a sure thing.

The 250-pound bronze statue is currently on a three-year lease in its location, according to the New York Times. State Street Global Advisors, the statue’s owners, requested a ten-year permit last year, stating their commitment to its upkeep. But a hearing before the Public Design Commission, which oversees the city’s art collection, has been delayed. Although the LPC has said they usually don’t issue violations when an active permit application is in place, Visbal told the Times: “We are being left in limbo.”

The threat of eviction isn’t the only recent controversy surrounding the four-foot-tall icon of defiance. As the copyright owner of the statue, Visbal is championing her right to make and sell versions of it around the globe.

The artist has sold replicas of “Fearless Girl” to buyers around the world. A full-sized, lightweight resin copy traveled to the 2019 Women’s March in Los Angeles and was later exhibited at the West L.A. library. Later that year State Street sued her for breach of contract, and of causing “substantial and irreparable harm to” the New York City statue and the company itself, according to the New Yorker.

Visbal issued a counterclaim, saying the world’s fourth-largest asset management firm was impeding her ability to spread the “Fearless Girl” message of women’s equality and empowerment. Visbal plans to release a set of NFTs inspired by “Fearless Girl,” to help raise money for her three-million-dollar-plus legal fees.

According to a press release from activist and preservationist Todd Fine, Visbal is willing to work with public agencies to make sure the city can own a casting of the sculpture forever. She is also hoping that nonprofits and international organizations will be allowed to use images of it in their efforts to advance women’s equality.

Visbal told 6sqft in an interview:

I would like to see the pieces placed around the world, where women need her most. I would like to see ‘Fearless Girl’ used widely by nonprofits that are aligned with these ideals behind her. I would love to see a copy of ‘Fearless Girl’ go to the United Nations. I think it’s the perfect spot, because she would meet and greet visiting dignitaries.

 

First and foremost, she is a symbol for empowerment. She can’t be drowned by any single entity’s message. She’s got to stand for the whole gamut of equality ideals behind her, which are: equality, equal pay, supporting women in leadership positions, education of women, education in the workplace for the prevention of prejudice, and the general well-being of women. Unofficially, she stands for diversity and gender collaboration.

“Fearless Girl” was first installed in honor of International Women’s Day in front of the “Charging Bull” statue in Bowling Green on March 7, 2017, and later moved to her current home at the steps of the New York Stock Exchange. As 6sqft has reported, the defiant statue attracted controversy in her early days as well.

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