The sculptor of Wall Street's iconic symbol 'Charging bull', Arturo Di Modica has died at 80.
On December 16, 1987, the artist with the help from some 40 friends, a crane and a truck, installed a bronze bull sculpture in New York's financial hub without due permission from the authorities.
Reportedly, he spent $350,000 from his own pocket to create the 7,100-pound bronze beast. This piece of work later became synonymous with Wall Street. The statue also represents the resilience of the US market.
The statue was an outcome of the US stock market crash of 1987.
"It was a period of crisis. The New York Stock Exchange lost more than 20%, and so many people were plunged into the blackest of depressions," an Italian daily quoted him earlier this year.
In his own words, the statue was originally conceived as "a joke, a provocation". Instead, it turned out to be a "cursedly serious thing". It is now adorned with the status of one of New York's most visited monuments.
The operation to plant the statue in front of the New York Stock Exchange only lasted a couple of minutes. In an interview, Di Modica said he discovered that the police used to make a round trip to the place every 7 or 8 minutes. Within 5 minutes they managed to place the monument and "uncorked a bottle of champagne", as the artist told it.
Charging Bull and the 1987 Market Crash
Late October 1987, the world markets tumbled due to a crash originating in the US stock market that eventually impacted every major market. On October 19, 1987 - now commonly known as the 'Black Monday' - Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 508 points (22.6%). Indeed, up to that time in history, it was the biggest drop in the market in just one day.
In the five years until the tumble, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had tripled. As a result, this sudden crash triggered panic about the impending extended economic instability around the world.
The real reason for the crash still baffles market analysts, but it is speculated that the roots of the crisis was laid on a couple of monetary and foreign agreements on trade, especially on the implementation of the Plaza Accord and Louvre Accord. These agreements were made to depreciate the price of dollar and reduce trade deficits.
Moreover, it is also speculated that a mishmash of unintended programming mistakes occurred in the computer programme-driven trading models. Due to these computer-based models' overvaluation, the stock prices soared higher and higher in the five years leading to the crash.
The crash emphasised the role of automation and technological innovation in increasing market volatility. In the new programme based system, automatically generated buy or sell orders was accepted at the expense of human decision-making.
With the increased digitalisation of the stock market and as trades happen in milliseconds, selling pressure can mount within moments, leading to huge losses in the process.
Legacy of the Charging Bull
The sculpture, a major attraction spot for the tourists, has become one of the most recognisable things to see in New York.
While most visitors have no clue why the statue is so popular, surely seeing the beast is in their bucket list.
The Charging Bull symbolises the courage and spirit of the Americans. It represents the "strength and power of the American people" and more particularly the people of New York City.
Over 30 years later, the Charging Bull's name is taken in the same breadth as the Statue of liberty or Empire State Building, and is certainly one of the most photographed pieces in the Big Apple.
In 2017, another famous name 'Fearless Girl' by Kristen Visbal was installed just opposite of the Charging Bull. The idea was to promote attention to gender inequality and the pay gap in the corporate world and encourage companies to recruit more women.
But the artist Arturo complained that originally the bull was designed to mean "strength, power and love", and the installment of 'Fearless Girl' facing off against it turned the bull's message into a negative one.