The landmark Charging Bull statue in Lower Manhattan now suffers from a six-inch long dent in its right horn after a man repeatedly smashed the 7,000-pound bronze beast while cursing President Donald Trump.
Tevon Varlack, 42, from Dallas, used what appeared to be a metal banjo to attack the bull around noon on Saturday, according to several news reports. Shortly after the incident, he was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. He was released following his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on Sunday.
Plenty of spectators took photos and videos of Varlack as he started hitting the bull, which stands on Broadway near Bowling Green.
“He just started wilding out, hitting the bull over the head,” Luis Cruz, 53, told the New York Times. Cruz added that Varlack cursed at Trump while he swung the banjo.
Cruz said he expressed astonishment to people snapping photos of the man’s behavior, saying, “‘What are you doing? What if this guy turns on you, hits you over the head, kills you?’ They didn’t pay no mind.”
Reportedly Varlack even brought a portable speaker and played gospel music as he whacked the bull. A man named Louie told the Daily News, “He turned on the music and then started hitting it. Like 50, 60 times in the same spot, and he kept saying ‘eff Trump, eff Trump.”
Created by Arturo Di Modica and installed in 1989, the bull has long been a popular tourist attraction. When di Modica first installed the bull it was without permission, and intended as a symbol of “the strength and power of the American People” following a particularly tumultuous economic period in the late ’80s. In recent years, it’s been seen by some as a symbol of Wall Street greed and corporate self-interest, and as such it’s a common target of protest and vandalism.
The bull has been splashed with paint at least twice, most recently in 2017, when climate change activists used blue paint to draw attention to the Paris Accord agreement, a United Nations framework to battle global warming. In 2011, a young artist “yarn-bombed” the bull, crocheting a hot pink and black full-body cover. That same year, steel barricades were installed around the sculpture as a security measure during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
The damage on the Charging Bull statue seen on Monday morning.
Claire Lampen / Gothamist
Each time, the acts of vandalism seem to draw only more interest in the iconic bull. Following Saturday’s damage, tourists were lining up to take photos.
Linda Painter, a tourist, visited the bull on Monday morning after reading about what had happened. “It’s horrible. It’s disgusting … I don’t understand that,” she told Gothamist.
The damage has been described as the most costly one ever inflicted on the statue. Gallery owner, Fernando Luis Alvarez, told the Times that repairing the gash on the horn could cost between $75,000 and $150,000. Arthur Piccolo, of the Bowling Green Association, told the Daily News that “he expects an upstate foundry, Polich Tallix, will visit the bull this week and repair it on site.”
UPDATE: Following the publication of this story, Piccolo told Gothamist that since the Daily News story he has been in touch with the artist Modica, who is in Italy and estimated that the repairs would cost $15,000 at most. Piccolo said Modica is expected to come to New York City in several weeks to personally oversee the project.