The 4-foot bronze Fearless Girl statue that was deposited in front of New York City's Charging Bull in 2017 will remain in its current spot opposite the New York Stock Exchange at least until early next year while city officials wrestle with a permanent disposition for the popular symbol of female empowerment, a city board decided Monday.
Members of the Public Design Commission granted an 11-month permit extension and said they would spend the next six months exploring a way for New York City to take ownership of the statue, which is currently the subject of litigation between artist Kristen Visbal and State Street Global Advisors, the Boston-based asset-management firm that commissioned it.
“We today, the Public Design Commission, cannot make this a permanent piece of art,” commission president Signe Nielsen said. “We can urge that steps be taken to enable this work to be considered for the public collection.”
The statue of a spunky young girl was supposed to be a temporary installation when State Street commissioned it in 2017 to urge higher representation of women on corporate boards, but permits to keep it on display were extended several times once it became a major tourist attraction.
Fearless Girl was moved to its current location opposite the Stock Exchange in December 2018 and has continued to draw selfie-taking visitors there.
Visbal, meanwhile, began selling replicas of the statue around the world. State Street, which had an ownership contract with the artist, sued Visbal alleging the replica sales violated the agreement, and Visbal countersued, arguing that the company was infringing on her rights.
“The commission should be aware that State Street has sued me, which makes it impossible for them to act as fair agents on my behalf,” Visbal told design commission members over Zoom.
She urged the city to take ownership of the piece itself. “I am convinced the only way artists’ rights can be honored and acknowledged is if the city owns the work,” she said.
Both Visbal and State Street indicated support for the board's vote to renew the statue's temporary permit while working toward a permanent solution.
“As the Artist and the creator of the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue, I am beyond grateful to New York City and the Public Design Commission for hearing my concerns," Visbal said in a statement. "I pledge to work with the City to identify a fair and reasonable solution in the coming six months.”
A State Street spokesperson said in a statement: “We are appreciative the Fearless Girl statue will remain at her current location in front of the New York Stock Exchange. With the outcome of today’s hearing with the City of New York’s Public Design Commission, we will work together with the Department of Transportation, PDC and the artist regarding our desire to keep the Fearless Girl statue at her current location for an extended period.”