It sounds pretty nice to have a statue of yourself that will live on long after you’re gone. However, that may not always be the case.
Here is a list of statues made after famous people that are so bad, some have been removed and destroyed. Some, however, live on, shaming the person they’re modeled after as well as the artist.
The statue dubbed “Scary Lucy” was erected in 2009 and quickly shot to fame for the fact it looked less like Lucille Ball, and more like a movie monster from Beetlejuice. A campaign was started after the town of Celoron, New York, Lucille’s hometown, saw just how poor of a job the artist did in making the eyesore of a statue.
It may have taken a few years, but finally the artist issued a statement in 2015, admitting his fault. Dave Poulin said in a letter, “I take full responsibility for Scary Lucy, though by no means was that my intent or did I wish to disparage in any way the memories of the iconic Lucy image.”
Luckily the statue was removed and replaced with a new one by a different artist in 2016.
To be sure of the work, the town had 65 sculptors try out; the winner was a woman named Carolyn Palmer, and her work is infinitely better.
This statue, which doesn’t seem nearly as bad as Lucy’s, was erected outside Craven Cottage, on the grounds of Fulham Football Club in London. It was built in April 2011 at the request of former owner and chairman Mohamed Fayed, who was good friends with Jackson.
The club changed owners in 2013 and the new owner asked the general public if they wanted the statue removed, which had a strong vote for doing so. In a statement, the new owner, Shahid Khan, said, “I respect Mr. Fayed and know he had good intentions in paying an individual tribute. However, the removal of the statue is the right thing for Fulham Football Club.”
The statue was moved to the National Football Musuem in 2014 in Manchester. The statue stood over seven feet tall and was intended to bring good luck. Interestingly enough, as soon as the statue was removed the football club was relegated out of the English Premier League.
Kurt Cobain Day is celebrated on Feb. 20 in Cobain’s hometown of Aberdeen, Washington. In 2014, the town revealed a statue to honor the late Cobain and its reception was not what they were expecting.
The statue portrayed a single tear rolling down Cobain’s face as he plays guitar. It was immediately met with criticism as he looks mostly like an oversized Jesus, along with the fact that the town was doing it mainly for publicity as their governor said, “We have been remiss for a long time of not honoring him. We hope this is just as big as Graceland eventually.”
The controversy continued since Cobain was noted for actually hating his hometown and was arrested several times while growing up there for vandalizing various areas of Aberdeen.
Local resident Randi Hubbard built the statue, which took her 20 years to complete with the help of local art students. The statue sat in her auto shop for some time until the city accepted her offer of donation. It currently sits in the town museum.
Oscar Wilde is one of the most famous writers of the 18th and 19th century. He was an Irishman but he spent a lot of time in London and had several of his plays performed there. In 1998, artist Maggi Hambling sought to honor Wilde and unveiled her stature of him, literally coming out of a coffin.
Some think the statue is great, others think it’s terrible, and some people just think it’s a bench. A writer for The Guardian says, “Every time I pass her sculpture, I am overcome with revulsion and rage. Apparently, it seemed clever to create a flaccid bronze bust of Wilde rising from his coffin smoking a cigarette, but the structureless wispy preciousness of the bronze and the inane overstatement of the coffin add up to a horrible work of art. If only this statue were standing up; then it could be pulled down.”
Needless to say, he was not a fan. In her defense, Hamblin was chosen out of 12 artists for her idea, and says, “The idea is that he is rising, talking, laughing, smoking from this sarcophagus and the passerby, should he or she choose to, can sit on the sarcophagus and have a conversation with him.”
Walter Johnson is a Hall of Fame pitcher who struck out 3,509 batters while winning 417 games with the Washington Senators from 1907 to 1927. So it’s not surprise the team wanted to build a memorial in his honor.
The arts programs in Washington spent over $400,000 for the construction of three statues (of different ballplayers) and all have the same characteristics in order to make it seem like the ballplayers are in mid-motion.
Henry Thomas, Johnson’s grandson, said of the statue of Johnson, “It just doesn’t work. Those big pieces of matter coming out of Walter’s shoulder look like driftwood. I don’t like any part of the statue. I really object to it. It’s ridiculous, not even close. He looks awkward.”
While most people won’t really mind since they’re only passing it as they get to their seats inside the ballpark, Thomas remains upset because he trusted the arts commission when he signed the final rights to them, hoping they would let him see it before approval. However, the open tryout for sculptors went to artist Omri Amrany in Chicago, and Johnson only saw the statue after it had been built.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the striker for the Madrid football club Real Madrid, has been named FIFA Player of the Year four times, is one of the best soccer players in the world, and is widely accepted as an objectively attractive man. He’s also had some bad luck with statues.
His second statue, which was unveiled earlier this year, was immediately met with criticism. The statue resides at the newly renamed Cristiano Ronaldo Airport on the island of Madeira, Portugal—Madeira is where Ronaldo was born, so of course they named the local airport after him. The statue was part of the renaming ceremony, and while Ronaldo has not made too many comments, everyone else certainly has.
The creator, Emanuel Santos, responded to the harsh remarks: “It is impossible to please the Greeks and Trojans. Neither did Jesus please everyone. This is a matter of taste, so it is not as simple as it seems. What matters is the impact that this work generated.”
The statue became internet famous when a series of tweets and memes were made mocking the work.
Arthur Ashe was one of the greatest tennis players of all time who broke racial boundaries as he became a legend on the court and hero off it. His hometown of Richmond, Virginia, had a statue built of him in 1996. Before the statue was even erected, there was already controversy surrounding it since it was to be placed on a street that had several other statues of Confederate icons.
The other controversy is that for a statue about a man who is mostly known for his tennis skills, this one depicts him for his social activism. However, they couldn’t even get that right. In reality it seems like he is kind of just taunting a group of kids as he holds books over their heads. He does have a tennis racket in one arm, but other than that you’d be struggling to understand who or what this statue resembles.
However, that was all apparently Ashe’s decision as he told the artist, Paul DiPasquale, that he wanted to be represented in his current emaciated frame. When they spoke, Ashe was dying of AIDS due to a blood transfusion and weighed just 128 pounds at 6’1″ tall.
He wanted children to be involved, and didn’t want himself or his tennis career as the center of attention. He wanted to be in his warm-up suit and tennis shoes, and handing out books to show their source of knowledge and power. DiPasquale lastly mentions, “The last thing he said was, ‘Well, I suppose there should be a tennis racket in there someplace.’”