The controversial statue that had been outside Borough Hall for more than 70 years was whisked away to Brooklyn on Saturday. “The Triumph of Civic Virtue” now will undergo restoration for display in Green-Wood Cemetery.
The removal itself also has been controversial.
“They might as well have taken it out in the dark of night,” Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who on Dec. 8 led a rally against its removal, said on Monday. “That is how this entire process was carried out — in secrecy.”
The 22-ton sculpture, created by Frederick MacMonnies and given to the city in 1922, has been controversial for years, as is depicts a nearly naked man with a sword standing over two mythical female figures.
Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, no fan of the statue, had it moved from City Hall to Queens in 1941. It had been at Borough Hall on Queens Boulevard ever since.
The MacMonnies family, with members buried in Green-Wood, are reportedly securing private funds to restore the work.
Borough President Helen Marshall, while a critic of the statue in the past, said this past summer that she was disappointed the restoration would not take place in Queens.
“She is glad the statue will be restored, and as we have said, we hope to replace it with a public space honoring women,” Dan Andrews, her spokesman, said Monday.
While cost estimates for restoration vary wildly, Andrews said the city does not have the money for the project.
But he declined to comment on where the city would get the money for creating a public plaza dedicated to women on the site.
A report issued on Dec. 13 by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli projects the city to have a $1.2 billion budget deficit in fiscal year 2014.
“Putting names here will be less expensive than restoring that statue,” Andrews said.
Vallone and others have been critical from the start of the process by which the city and its Design Commission decided to relocate the sculpture.
Back in July a spokeswoman for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services said no decision had been made. Vallone on Monday said he was told the same thing this past summer.
Vallone said he inquired about restoration when he saw that a fence had been erected around it.
“Then I read it was being moved to Brooklyn,” he said. “They lied and told me that was not the case, that nothing had been decided.”
The final straw for the councilman was the design commission’s posting the notice of a Nov. 13 public hearing on the project six days after Hurricane Sandy struck, a time when council members and many other city officials did not have email access.
The city insists that the date of the meeting was announced a year ago., but at the Dec. 8 rally, officials with Community Board 9 said city officials never notified them about their intentions