Real estate mogul and art collector Aby Rosen has sparked a feud with his wealthy Old Westbury, N.Y., neighbours after debuting this graphic Damien Hirst statue on his front lawn.
The statue is titled “The Virgin Mother” and stands 33 feet tall. It depicts a naked pregnant woman in stride, with the right half of her skin peeled away to expose her skull, muscles, and the foetus in her womb.
Somewhat understandably, Rosen’s neighbours were not pleased when he began displaying the statue on his lawn back in May after renovating his Old Westbury Village property, according to Newsday. The complaints from neighbours reached village officials, forcing Rosen to argue to the village’s planning board this week why the statue should stay.
Rosen is also up against the village’s Mayor Fred Carillo, who has introduced new legislation in response to the controversy that would limit the height of “accessory structures” — like statues — to 25 feet in height. Carillo has previously said to 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera that the statue would be more appropriate in a medical building, “especially OBGYN.”
On Monday night, representatives for Rosen testified to the planning board that the statue not only fit with Rosen’s avant-garde estate, but also that with the proper landscaping, the statue could be screened from neighbours as much as possible. Rosen’s land-use attorney Peter MacKinnon previously stated to Newsday that the statue could be moved to a lower elevation or “pocketed into a hill” to accomplish this.
Village officials decided to reserve judgement until touring the estate, according to Newsday. The statue currently remains on Rosen’s property but is covered in a long black sheet.
“The Virgin Mother” is one of three similar statues created by Hirst, including one called “Verity” that is 67 feet tall and holds a sword above its head in Ilfracombe, Devon. Rosen purchased his statue in 2005, and it has previously been displayed at Manhattan’s Lever House.
This is not the only art-related battle Rosen is currently fighting. The real estate mogul is also being sued by the New York Landmarks Conservancy for wanting to take down the fragile Picasso curtain “Le Tricorne” (1919) from New York City’s Four Seasons Restaurant.
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