As Dangerous Minds—and pretty much every online source of news or cultural info—reported about a month ago, an edition of five utterly monstrous and hilarious statues of a nude Donald Trump, titled “The Emperor Has no Balls,” appeared all at once in five American cities, namely Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, San Francisco, and Cleveland. Most of those statues were seized by police almost immediately upon their discovery, and all of them are meeting very different fates.
Most notably, the City of Cleveland Heights has released its confiscated statue to the sculptor, Joshua “Ginger” Monroe, for a nominal impound fee of $110. Monroe got his start in haunted house design, has done work for Cirque de Soleil, and served as the director of Eli Roth’s now-defunct Goretorium in Las Vegas, his current city of residence. Cleveland boasts the distinction of being the only non-coastal city to host one of the original five, and it wasn’t chosen just because that city served as the venue for the RNC. There’s a more personal connection, as Monroe originally hails from the Cleveland suburb Garfield Heights, and he requested that one be placed in his hometown. Here’s some video of Monroe springing his work from the stir. Apologies for vertical phone-cam.
Monroe and his attorney Dan Margolis with CHPD Chief Annette Mecklenburg.
The work was the brainchild of INDECLINE, an activist collective comprised of counterculturally-bent artists and political radicals. No other city has released its confiscated statue to Monroe, nor to INDECLINE. Since its liberation, Cleveland’s statue is currently in a climate controlled lock-up in a safe location to protect it from vandalism until an auction can take place. Through an agreement with Monroe, a community organization called Heights Arts and the Coventry Village Special Improvement District, which serves the commercial district where “The Emperor Has No Balls” was surreptitiously placed, the statue will be auctioned for funds to benefit future public art projects, both in the Coventry Village neighborhood—an area with a storied counterculture history that reaches back to the ‘60s—and throughout Cleveland Heights. The auction house that will handle the sale hasn’t been identified yet, as those discussions are still ongoing.
The Trump statue in Cleveland Heights’ impound locker. Note the evidence tag clinging for dear life from The Donald’s tragic microphallus.
Los Angeles’ statue is also going up for auction, but neither the artist nor INDECLINE were involved in the statue’s claim. It was rescued by Matt Kennedy of the long-running and justly respected La Luz de Jesus gallery, and it will be part of an October street art auction at Julien’s, an auction that also includes works by Keith Haring, Banksy, and Jean Michel Basquiat. Partial proceeds from the Trump statue sale will be donated to the National Immigration Forum.
San Francisco originally refused to release its statue unless Monroe accepted criminal charges, to which he would not submit, as he didn’t place the statue and so isn’t actually guilty of vandalism. They’ve evidently accepted that they can’t charge Monroe, but they clearly seem to want to charge someone with something as a condition of the work’s release. The owner of the S.F. bar Lefty O’Doul’s offered to pay all fines and costs to release the work, but the SFPD refused—apparently they want someone arrested before the work sees the light of day again. The Seattle statue was saved by a group of business owners, and for now it lives in a vintage store called No Parking on Pike. New York’s was quickly destroyed—if Donald Trump doesn’t have friends on the NYPD, nobody does. Subsequent versions of the statue, not from the original edition, have been placed in Las Vegas, Miami, and New Jersey. New Jersey’s was already stolen, and Miami’s went missing this morning. Due to the hugeness of their reception, further statues are in the works, but of course, only the original five are the original five.
The artist was kind enough to spare us a few moments to talk about the fallout his work has generated, and Coventry Village Executive Director Angela Hetrick talked to us about the Cleveland statue’s future.
MONROE: It’s been a very bizarre scenario! Every day I have to remind myself that this really happened. Lots of really neat things have come of it, like getting to come home to Cleveland to liberate that statue from the police. Another statue from the edition just went up in Las Vegas as part of the Life is Beautiful festival, a really big event with lots of artists. It’s MINDBLOWING to be in the Julien’s auction. I can’t believe I’m in the company of those people—to be part of an auction with Banksy and all the greats of that genre? It’s a dream come true.
HETRICK: “The number of requests we’ve gotten from people to put it on public display has been crazy, but that’s not part of our plans. From the day the statue was discovered in the neighborhood, our thought was to benefit our community public art fund. It was a process, and we’re pleased—a lot of organizations wanted it for their interests. We’re glad we got it, and we’re hoping it will fund some jobs for artists and some long-term neighborhood beautification, which would be ironic for something so ugly.”
In something of a cosmic irony, Trump did a fundraiser in Cleveland Heights yesterday, walking distance from the site of the statue’s placement. In a church. With Don King. Who dropped an n-bomb while introducing Trump. (Later the assembled, who also included VP candidate Mike Pence, reality TV star Omarosa and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, laid hands upon the spray-tanned shithead who would rule them all to protect him from Satan...) WHERE WAS THE JUSTLY DESERVED BOLT OF LIGHTNING FROM THE HEAVENS? GAME SET MATCH, THEISTS.