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Wall Street bull's sculptor says Fearless Girl violates his artistic rights

Fearless Girl has been a huge hit with locals and tourists alike since she began staring down Manhattan's famous Charging Bull last month.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fearless Girl has been a huge hit with locals and tourists alike since she began staring down Manhattan's famous Charging Bull last month.

Wall Street’s Fearless Girl has spent weeks in a staring match with Charging Bull, and the bull blinked first.

The statue of the steadfast girl, with hands firmly pressed to her hips, first appeared on the Lower Manhattan traffic island on March 7 to mark International Women’s Day.

The statue was created by artist Kristen Visbal, who was commissioned by a New York advertising firm and a Boston investment bank, as a pointed message to corporate America about the lack of women in their boardrooms.

She was also enough of a hit with New Yorkers and tourists that city officials granted a permit that will keep her there until at least February 2018.

“The bull represents mean and power,” said Romanian student Cristina Pogorevici. “So she is a message of women’s power and things that are changing in the world right now.”

However, the sculptor behind the bull is hearing a vastly different message. Where others see an inspiring note for women and girls, Arturo Di Modica sees “an advertising trick” that is violating his legal rights.

Sculptor Arturo Di Modica is flanked by two lawyers who are helping him make the case against Fearless Girl.

Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Sculptor Arturo Di Modica is flanked by two lawyers who are helping him make the case against Fearless Girl.

“I put it there for art,” the Italian-born artist told MarketWatch in March. “My bull is a symbol for America. My bull is a symbol for prosperity and strength,” adding that Fearless Girl infringes on his artistic copyright by offsetting it with a distinctively different element.

This week, in a bid to once again make his bull the master of its domain, Di Modica has turned to another symbol for America: threats of litigation.

The Italian-born artist has enlisted a lawyer to challenge city officials that granted the permit. Attorney Norman Siegel says he will be seeking the decision’s paper trail to ensure proper procedures were followed.

The statue is a regular stop for selfie-seekers in Lower Manhattan.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The statue is a regular stop for selfie-seekers in Lower Manhattan.

Perhaps ironically, Di Modica’s pursuit may be a violation of the bull’s own guerrilla past. The 7,000-pound sculpture was first dropped in front of the New York Stock Exchange in the middle of a 1987 night – without a permit – as a message of resilience in the wake of a financial crash. Much like its future island rival, the bull immediately set the city buzzing and officials eventually acquiesced to intense public pressure to make the piece a permanent fixture.

For her part, Fearless Girl’s creator says she has no hard feelings.

“I love Charging Bull,” Kristen Visbal told the Associated Press last month. “But women are here, and we’re here to stay.”

Whether she stays or she goes, the resolute sculpture has already changed her neighbourhood.

“The girl has changed the meaning of the bull forever,” said David Levi Strauss from the Manhattan School of Visual Arts. “With public art like this, it’s a Rorschach test onto which people are projecting their own opinions and feelings.”

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