Columbus story

In the early nineteen nineties, America had a dilemma. A Russian sculptor named Zurab Tsereteli had produced a huge sculpture of Christopher Columbus. And I mean huge.

It was nine feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. It was intended as a gift from the Russian people to the American people to commemorate the anniversary of the discovery of the New World.

The trouble is that no-one really wanted it. It was offered to Manhattan but the idea of a statue towering over the Statue of Liberty didn’t appeal. Both Miami and Fort Lauderdale turned down the opportunity to have this artwork. Ohio didn’t want it. In Columbus on official said “Nobody wants to be responsible for scaring children for 20 miles in either direction.” Baltimore rejected it too. Native Americans were particularly incensed saying that the statue represented someone who instigated ‘500 years of genocide’. Ouch.

Tsereteli then asked for a permit to export ‘a certain amount of material’with which to assemble the sculpture. At customs though, the cargo was held and Tsereteli charged with smuggling.

Once extracted from that debacle, Tsereteli turned his attention to St Petersburg in Florida. Because of their name, maybe they would want the sculpture? Nope.

The only part of the statue that had made it to the States at that time was the head – which was in storage in Fort Lauderdale. The head alone weighed in at eleven tons. There was a plan to display it in a local park but the idea had few supporters. It remained here for six years.

Then a home was found for the statue – Puerto Rico. The head, and all the other bits and pieces, were transported there.

In August 2011 it was reported that the sculpture would be assembled in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, this is where Google seems to dry up on the subject. Does anyone know more?

Posted by Las Olas Boulevard in : History News,

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