WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A 33-foot bronze sculpture of a nude pregnant woman has upset some residents of a Long Island village.
The statue, “The Virgin Mother,” by British artist Damien Hirst has an exposed fetus, skull and tissue.
It stands on a conservation easement of the historic Old Westbury estate of real estate mogul Aby Rosen and is only visible to neighbors and those welcome on the five acres, WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reported.
The home is dripping with history and culture, it was built for the founder of the Museum of Modern Art in 1938.
The mayor called the sculpture out of character with the exclusive neighborhood and has proposed some village rule changes that could force its removal, Xirinachs reported.
“Residents were up in arms,” Old Westbury Mayor Fred Carillo told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera, adding that he received about a half-dozen letters of complaint.
Carillo said some complained the statue is too graphic and doesn’t belong in a residential area.
“At a medical building I think it would be a magnificent piece, especially OBGYN,” Carillo said.
Neighbors also voiced concerns that the statue was visible to school children.
“Buses go from house to house, and kids are subjected to seeing this fetal statue,” Carillo told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Carillo said a hearing on the sculpture will likely be held early next month before the Village Planning Board, although the issue could come up at a trustees meeting on May 19.
The statue will be covered up in the meantime.
“We’re covering it up so that no one’s feelings are hurt,” Rosen’s landscape architect, David Kelly, told Rivera. “We don’t want to be insensitive.”
The statue previously sat in the courtyard at Lever House in mid-Manhattan and is one of several versions that were created by Hirst and displayed around the world.
“It is very important work. It is Damien Hirst, the virgin mother. There are three in existence in the world,” Kelly explained.
Kelly added that the idea of moving the statue to ease the concerns of neighbors was not out of the question.
“We are thinking of shifting it a little bit, moving it a little bit, nestling it in, so that the village is happy and the neighbors are happy,” Kelly said.
A public hearing will be held on overwriting village code that limits accessory structures to 25 ft in height.
Meanwhile, Rosen is being sued by the New York Landmarks Conservancy over his plan to move a Picasso painting it owns from The Four Seasons Restaurant in Manhattan. The restaurant is in the Seagram Building owned by Rosen’s company, RFR Holding Corp.
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