Charging Bull

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Charging Bull
Charging Bull statue.jpg
The sculpture in 2011
ArtistArturo Di Modica
Year1989 (1989)
Dimensions11 feet (3.4 m) tall & 16 feet (4.9 m) long[1][2]
Weight7,100 pounds (3,200 kg)
LocationNew York City, New York, U.S.
Coordinates40°42′20″N 74°00′48″W / 40.705576°N 74.013421°W / 40.705576; -74.013421Coordinates: 40°42′20″N 74°00′48″W / 40.705576°N 74.013421°W / 40.705576; -74.013421
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

Charging Bull, sometimes referred to as the Wall Street Bull or the Bowling Green Bull, is a bronze sculpture that stands in Bowling Green in the Financial District in Manhattan, New York City.

The sculpture was created by Sicilian artist Arturo Di Modica. On December 14, 1989 Di Modica arrived on Wall Street with Charging Bull on the back of a truck and illegally dropped the sculpture outside of the New York Stock Exchange. The sculpture was conceived in the wake of the 1987 Black Monday stock market crash. Having arrived penniless in the USA in 1970, Di Modica felt indebted to America for welcoming him and enabling his career as a successful sculptor. Charging Bull was intended to inspire each person who came into contact with it to carry on fighting through the hard times after the market crash for a brighter future.[3] Di Modica later recounted to art critic Anthony Haden Guest "My point was to show people that if you want to do something in a moment things are very bad, you can do it. You can do it by yourself. My point was that you must be strong".[4]


The 7,100-pound (3,200 kg) sculpture stands 11 feet (3.4 m) tall[5] and measures 16 feet (4.9 m) long.[6] It depicts a bull, the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity, leaning back on its haunches and with its head lowered as if ready to charge. The sculpture is both a popular tourist destination, which draws thousands of people a day, as well as "one of the most iconic images of New York"[7] and a "Wall Street icon"[8] symbolizing Wall Street and the Financial District.

In Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide, Dianne Durante describes the sculpture:

The Bull's head is lowered, its nostrils flare, and its wickedly long, sharp horns are ready to gore; it's an angry, dangerous beast. The muscular body twists to one side, and the tail is curved like a lash: the Bull is also energetic and in motion.[9]

The bronze color and hard, metallic texture of the sculpture's surface emphasizes the brute force of the creature. The work was designed and placed so that viewers could walk around it, which also suggests the creature's own movement is unrestricted — a point reinforced by the twisting posture of the bull's body, according to Durante.

Charging Bull, then, shows an aggressive or even belligerent force on the move, but unpredictably. [...] [I]t's not far-fetched to say the theme is the energy, strength, and unpredictability of the stock market."[9]

Di Modica told the New York Daily News in 1998:

That bull is one of an edition of five. ... I'm hoping the other four will be going to cities all over the world, whenever somebody buys them.[10]

In 2010, a similar Charging Bull sculpture by Di Modica was installed in Shanghai on commission by the Shanghai city authority; it is informally called the Bund Bull.[11]

In 2012, Di Modica unofficially installed another charging bull sculpture outside the Amsterdam Stock Exchange on Beursplein, Amsterdam.[12]


Construction and installation[edit]

Arturo Di Modica shortly after the illegal installation of Charging Bull

The bull was cast by the Bedi-Makky Art Foundry in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Di Modica spent $360,000 to create, cast, and install the sculpture following the 1987 stock market crash.[2] The sculpture was Di Modica's idea, and in an act of guerrilla art, Bedi Makky Art Foundry and Di Modica trucked it to Lower Manhattan. On December 15, 1989, they installed it beneath a 60-foot (18 m) Christmas tree in the middle of Broad Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange as a Christmas gift to New Yorkers. That day, hundreds of onlookers stopped to see it as Di Modica handed out copies of a flier about his artwork.[6]

NYSE officials called police later that day, and the NYPD seized the sculpture and placed it into an impound lot.[6] The ensuing public outcry led the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to reinstall it two blocks south of the Exchange, in Bowling Green, with a ceremony on December 21, 1989. It faces up Broadway at Whitehall Street.[13]

Confusion over ownership[edit]

The sculpture technically has a temporary permit allowing it to stand on city property since the city does not own the sculpture, but the temporary permission has lasted since 1989, when city officials said the new location would not be permanent.[14] Art on loan is usually limited to a year's display, and although the city does not buy art, it does accept donations.[15] A writer in the New York Daily News wrote in 1998 that the statue's placement was "beginning to look a mite permanent."[10] According to an article in Art Monthly, Di Modica, as well as officials and New Yorkers, "view it as a permanent feature of Lower Manhattan."[16]

In 2004, Di Modica announced that the bull sculpture was for sale, on condition the buyer did not move it from its location. Di Modica continues to own the artistic copyright to the statue.[5] In 2006, Di Modica sued Wal-Mart and other companies for selling replicas of the bull and using it in advertising campaigns.[17] In 2009, Di Modica sued Random House for using a photo of the bull on the cover of a book discussing the collapse of financial services firm Lehman Brothers.[18]

Evolution into tourist attraction[edit]

Tourists gathering around the Charging Bull

As soon as the sculpture was set up at Bowling Green, it became "an instant hit."[15] One of the city's most photographed artworks, it has become a tourist destination in the Financial District. "Its popularity is beyond doubt", a New York Times article said of the artwork. "Visitors constantly pose for pictures around it." [5] Adrian Benepe, the New York City parks commissioner, said in 2004, "It's become one of the most visited, most photographed and perhaps most loved and recognized statues in the city of New York. I would say it's right up there with the Statue of Liberty."[1] Henry J. Stern, the city parks commissioner when the statue first appeared in the Financial District, said in 1993: "People are crazy about the bull. It captured their imagination."[15] One 2007 newspaper report noted a "ceaseless stream" of visitors from India, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Venezuela, and China, as well as the United States. Children enjoy climbing on the bull,[19] which sits "famously"[20] at street level on the cobblestones at the far northern tip of the small park. A Bollywood movie, Kal Ho Naa Ho features the bull in a musical number. One visitor told a newspaper reporter it was a reason for his visit.[7]

Charging Bull with more tourists

In addition to having their pictures taken at the front end of the bull, many tourists pose at the back of the bull, near the large testicles "for snapshots under an unmistakable symbol of its virility."[21] According to a Washington Post article in 2002, "People on The Street say you've got to rub the nose, horns and testicles of the bull for good luck, tour guide Wayne McLeod would tell the group on the Baltimore bus, who would giddily oblige."[22] A 2004 New York Times article said, "Passers-by have rubbed—to a bright gleam—its nose, horns and a part of its anatomy that, as Mr. Benepe put it gingerly, 'separates the bull from the steer.'"[5] A 2007 newspaper account agreed that a "peculiar ritual" of handling the "shining orbs" of the statue's scrotum seems to have developed into a tradition.[7]

On March 7, 2017, a bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbal, Fearless Girl was installed facing Charging Bull.[23] It was commissioned to advertise for an index fund that comprises gender-diverse companies that have a relatively high percentage of women among their senior leadership and installed in anticipation of International Women's Day the following day. It depicts a girl four foot high, promoting female empowerment.[24] Following complaints from Di Modica, it was removed in November 2018 and relocated to outside the New York Stock Exchange. A plaque with footprints was placed on the original site of Fearless Girl.[25]

6ft Bronze Charging Bull sold at Phillips London October 2018

Incidents of vandalism[edit]

In 2019 the Bull was vandalized twice. First on September 7, 2019 A Dallas, Texas man named Tevon Varlack struck the sculpture with a banjo leaving a sizable dent in the horn area of the work.[26] Subsequently the following month Di Modica personally came to the site to repair his creation.[27] Then on October 7, 2019 The bronze representation of a bovine was targeted by activists from Extinction Rebellion who hurled fake blood over it and staged a die-in on the traffic plaza which is the sculpture's immediate surround. [28]

Art market for Charging Bull[edit]

Di Modica created a number of variations of the Charging Bull which have been sold to private collectors. Most notably Joe Lewis, who was one time majority owner of Christies, purchased the rest of the original edition. In October 2018 a 6ft highly polished bronze version of Charging Bull went to sale at auction at Phillips and sold for $405,000[29][30]. The following year in March a stainless steel version went on sale at Sotheby's where it sold for $275,000 despite being in poor condition.[31]

Di Modica is officially represented by Geist, an international private art dealership.[32]


A poster showing a ballerina on the Charging Bull to promote the Occupy Wall Street movement

Charging Bull has often been a subject of criticism from an anti-capitalist perspective. The Occupy Wall Street protests used the bull as a symbolic figure around which to direct their critiques of corporate greed. A 2011 image from Adbusters portraying a dancer posed in an attitude position atop the sculpture was used to promote the forthcoming protests.[33] The first gathering of Occupy took place around the sculpture on September 17, 2011, before moving to Zuccotti Park.[34] Because of the protests, the bull was surrounded by barricades and guarded by police[35] until 2014.[36][37]

The Charging Bull has been likened to the golden calf worshiped by the Israelites during their Exodus from Egypt. During Occupy Wall Street on multiple occasions an interfaith group of religious leaders led a procession of a golden calf figure that was modeled on the bull.[38][39] A large papier-mâché piñata made by Sebastian Errazuriz for a 2014 New York design festival was intended to be reminiscent of both the golden calf and Charging Bull.[40][41] Further comparisons to the golden calf have been made by Jewish and Christian religious commentators.[42][43]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The history of the sculpture and its sculptor was presented in the 2014 Italian documentary film Il Toro di Wall Street, released internationally as The Charging Bull.[44]
  • In Mr. Robot, Darlene Alderson (Carly Chaikin) is shown castrating the statue.[45][46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dunlap, David W. "The Bronze Bull Is for Sale, but There Are a Few Conditions", article, The New York Times, December 21, 2004, retrieved June 13, 2009
  2. ^ a b D. McFadden, Robert (December 16, 1989). "SoHo Gift to Wall St.: A 3½-Ton Bronze Bull". New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
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  5. ^ a b c d Dunlap, David W. (December 21, 2004). "The Bronze Bull Is for Sale, but There Are a Few Conditions". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Mcfadden, Robert D. (December 16, 1989). "SoHo Gift to Wall St.: A 3 1/2-Ton Bronze Bull". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Pinto Nick, "Bull!", article, September 1, 2007, The Tribeca Trib, retrieved June 13, 2009
  8. ^ Greenfield, Beth and Robert Reid, Ginger Adams Otis, New York City, p 120, publisher: Lonely Planet, 2006, ISBN 1-74059-798-2, ISBN 978-1-74059-798-2 retrieved via Google Books on June 13, 2009
  9. ^ a b Durante, Dianne L. (February 1, 2007). Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide. NYU Press. ISBN 9780814719862.
  10. ^ a b Singleton, Don, "Rock Solid", article, May 3, 1998, New York Daily News, retrieved June 13, 2009
  11. ^ Areddy, James. "Shanghai Gets a Bull for Its Own Shop". Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  12. ^ "Bronzen stier op Beursplein" (Bronze Bull on stock exchange square) Archived November 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, article, July 5, 2012, Nu NL news photo report
  13. ^ The Associated Press (December 20, 1989). "Wall St.'s Bronze Bull Moves 2 Blocks South". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  14. ^ "Wall St.'s Bronze Bull Moves 2 Blocks South", Associated Press article, as printed in The New York Times, December 20, 1989, retrieved June 13, 2009
  15. ^ a b c Lambert, Bruce, "Neighborhood Report: Lower Manhattan; A Campaign To Save a Bull", article, The New York Times, October 3, 1993, retrieved June 13, 2009
  16. ^ Lydiate, Henry, "Public sculpture.(COPYRIGHT)", article, November 1, 2006, Art Monthly, retrieved via the "Access My Library" website, June 13, 2009
  17. ^ "Sculptor of Manhattan 'Charging Bull' statue sues Wal-Mart, others to protect its image". Associated Press. September 21, 2006. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved July 20, 2007.
  18. ^ "Suit Alleges Illegal Use of `Charging Bull' Image". Los Angeles Times. From Dow Jones/the Associated Press. September 22, 2006. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  19. ^ Sommers, Carl, "Q and A", May 26, 1991, The New York Times, October 3, 1993, retrieved June 13, 2009
  20. ^ Durante, Dianne L., Outdoor monuments of Manhattan: a historical guide, NYU Press, 2007, ISBN 0-8147-1987-2, ISBN 978-0-8147-1987-9, retrieved via Google Books on June 13, 2009
  21. ^ Dunlap, David W., Downtown’s Bull, No Longer Emblematic, Remains Popular, September 16, 2008, The New York Times, retrieved June 13, 2009
  22. ^ Duke, Lynn, "The Pilgrimage To Ground Zero — Officials and Tourists Walk A Fine Line on Solemn Ground", Washington Post, February 27, 2002, Edition F, page C1, accessed via subscription archive website (also on High Beam Research subscription archive website) on May 4, 2008
  23. ^ Wiener-Bronner, Danielle (March 7, 2017). "Why a defiant girl is staring down the Wall Street bull". CNNMoney. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  24. ^ Bekiempis, Victoria (November 28, 2018). "New York: Fearless Girl who faced down Wall Street's bull moved to new spot" – via
  25. ^ Moyer, Liz (November 28, 2018). "'Fearless Girl' on the move, but leaves footprints for visitors to stand in her place". CNBC. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
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  33. ^ Beeston, Laura (October 11, 2011). "The Ballerina and the Bull: Adbusters' Micah White on 'The Last Great Social Movement'". The Link. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  34. ^ Pepitone, Julianne. "Hundreds of protesters descend to 'Occupy Wall Street'". CNNMoney. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  35. ^ Harshbarger, Rebecca and Frank Rosario. Outrage over caged Wall Street bull. New York Post. December 27, 2011.
  36. ^ DeGregory, Priscilla and Rebecca Harshbarger. Free market: Barricades around Wall Street Bull go down. New York Post. March 25, 2014.
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  38. ^ Schaper, Donna (October 11, 2011). "Occupy Wall Street, The Golden Calf And The New Idolatry". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  39. ^ Rieger, J (2013). Religion, Theology, and Class: Fresh Engagements after Long Silence. Springer. p. 114. ISBN 1137339241.
  40. ^ Cascone, Sarah (May 27, 2014). "Anti-Capitalist Golden Cow Piñata Sculpture Rains Cash in Brooklyn". Artnet. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  41. ^ "SI_BULL". Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  42. ^ * Badcock, Gary D. (2016). God and the Financial Crisis: Essays on Faith, Economics, and Politics in the Wake of the Great Recession. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 11. ISBN 9781443888370. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  43. ^ "Why I'm Not Bullish On 'Fearless Girl'". The Forward. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  44. ^ "The Charging Bull - The Bull of Wall Street". (in Italian). Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  45. ^ "'Mr. Robot': Everything That Happened in Season 2". Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  46. ^ "'Mr. Robot' Season 2 Premiere Recap ‖ Hollywood Reporter". Retrieved March 20, 2019.