By Dmitry Tamoikin
Ukraine is in rough economic shape with a lot of debt. The Ukrainian government has been asking the US and EU to bail them out of their turmoil. Both the nation, and its citizens desperately need new revenue and debt free cash.
However, amongst all of this chaos, they can miraculously afford destroying historical, financially viable monuments. Why? For the sole purpose of entertainment. If the plan is eliminating everything that reminds them of communism, then there’s a much more effective and profitable way.
I have to state a disclaimer before making my proposal. I am not advocating for the deconstruction and sale of Lenin statues—or any other Soviet statues in the Ukraine or elsewhere in the world. I am a proponent of keeping these statues where they belong, so they can be protected by the local government. Even when a percentage of the population finds them offensive. Removing these statues is illegal and inappropriate for a civil, democratic society. Furthermore, UNESCO, along with the world community should take action by playing a more viable role in protecting them.
The reality is the situation in the Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe at large does not comply with my idealistic views stated in the paragraph above. The amount of Soviet statues being destroyed reveals there are only two options. Either a violent teardown or quiet deconstruction with subsequent construction of these historic monuments.
I do not agree with this way of thinking and aim to propose another bipartisan alternative.
Lenin statues are worth a lot of money to art funds, museums, and private collectors. This doesn’t just apply to nations like Russia or China, but to Western nations such as the United States, France, Germany, Great Britain, and plenty others. One single statue is worth approximately $100,000 US. Truthfully, many statues are worth a lot more than that.
The unique history and provenance plays a huge role. The larger than life-size Lenin monument (3.45 meters/11.32 feet), erected on Kiev’s Khreshchatyk Street in 1946, was built by Soviet sculptor Sergey Murkurov from the same red Karelian stone as Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow, and was even displayed at the 1939 New York World’s Fair (1). This rich history is what makes Lenin’s statue worth a substantial amount of money. The Ukraine should take advantage of this opportunity. How? By selling their Soviet statues to individuals and organizations at open auctions.
Those specific regions in Ukraine and Eastern Europe where people want these monuments removed should hold an official vote. The municipalities can arrange it. When the majority of voters want the monument to remain—it does. Now, on the flipside, when the majority of voters want the monument removed, then it should be put up for auction. Local authorities issue a removal permit, start the selling process, and ensure every last dollar goes to the local population.
Special provisions must be made when people vote for the statue to stay. Although, authorities cannot guarantee the statue safety because of the significant amount of protestors who may ignore the law and use violent means to tear down the statue. Social experts who advise the government must account for this contingency and properly inform the municipality of these potential risks. When the likelihood of the statue being destroyed is very high, the proper authorities should speak with the majority of the population to see how to proceed further. Under certain circumstances, a sale may be the only viable option to protect the treasured monument.
The removal and shipping fees are the buyers expense. Although, until the statue is sold, it must stay where it is, so no additional expenses incur. Costs are as follows: shipping & container -$5000 US, deconstruction -$2000 US on average. Low labor wages in Ukraine reduces the buyers expenses. The buyer should not expect to pay any more than $7000 US for regular size statues capable of fitting in a large shipping container. After calculating the overall value of the purchase, shipping and handling fees are very reasonable.
I feel confident many buyers would show interest, especially from China. The average price would be more than $100,000 US for only one statue. This is a win-win situation for everyone involved because the municipality and the local citizens receive their much needed cash. Plus, the buyer receives their unique historic artwork and the statue remains in existence.
Statue of Lenin In Seattle:
“There is a 16 foot (5 m) bronze sculpture of Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, Washington…. The statue was constructed by a Slovak Bulgarian sculptor, Emil Venkov, under commission from the Soviet and Czechoslovak governments… Lewis E. Carpenter, who was teaching English in Poprad, offered to buy it for $13,000. With the help of the original sculptor, the statue was professionally cut into three pieces and shipped to the United States at a total cost of $41,000… It now stands two blocks northward at the intersection of Evanston Ave N, N 36th St, and Fremont Place, outside a falafel shop and a gelato shop… The Carpenter family continues to seek a buyer for the statue. The asking price as of 2006 is $250,000, up from a 1995 price tag of $150,000.”
Text and image source:
Here’s another alternative to consider: create a Soviet theme park. These statues can be brought from all over the country and act as a tourist attraction. Lithuania, a former USSR republic, has done this successfully. A local entrepreneur created a place called: Grūtas Park (www.grutoparkas.it). This private park attracts both local and international visitors because of the Soviet statues. Ukraine now is faced with the same choice. Lose these valuable pieces of art or make money on them. Considering the state of the economy and widespread poverty, the choice is clear.
I believe the government of the Russian Federation should take initiative and create a fund with the primary purpose of preserving all statues and monuments created by the USSR. Irrespective of their location—and in the event where they cannot be preserved, then buying and moving these historic artworks back to Russia.
Just to clarify: Soviet monuments under no immediate danger should stay where they are and not be sold unless threatened with demolition.
This article was first published on: http://www.tamoikin.com/news/leninopad-lenin-statues-in-ukraine-dont-break-them-sell-them1
Disclaimer: Dmitry Tamoikin is the acting president of The World Art News and The Tamoikin Art Fund, and has vested interests in both companies.
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