The head of a statue of Vladimir Lenin was unearthed in Berlin. Sound familiar, Fremont?
Once again, Vladimir Lenin is being resurrected.
In Germany, workers Thursday dug up a sculpted 8,600-pound head of the Soviet Union’s first leader to be displayed as part of an exhibition.
The statue, once 62-feet tall, was torn down and buried outside Berlin in 1991, reports Deutsche Welle. Where Lenin lies, so does controversy.
Sand lizards living atop the buried statue had to be moved. City officials were accused of delaying the dig for bogus technical problems. At one point, the city said it couldn’t find the buried head even though a film crew had partially dug it up years ago, the German broadcaster reports.
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That acrimony might sound familiar to Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, where a Lenin statue was the focal point of a similar saga.
In the early 1990s, Issaquah’s Lew Carpenter, the owner of a construction company, found a 16-foot-tall bronze statue of Lenin in a Slovakian dump while he was teaching English in that country.
The eccentric man, who carried business cards that labeled him a “Mercenary – Playboy – Soldier of Fortune – Casual Hero – Philanthropist,” spent about $40,000 to purchase and ship the bronze likeness, in three pieces, to his home.
In 1994, Carpenter died in a car accident on Stevens Pass. Local artist Peter Bevis, the founder of the Fremont Foundry, contacted Carpenter’s family about preserving the statue.
Bevis brokered a deal: The Fremont neighborhood’s Chamber of Commerce would hold the statue in a trust until someone purchased the 7-ton bronze figure.
Twenty years later, the Carpenter’s family still owns the statue. Earlier this spring, a Fremont Arts Council representative said it was on sale for $250,000.
Long a controversial part of an eclectic neighborhood, Lenin’s hands are often painted blood red by those seeking to make a political statement. At Christmastime, his stern visage can be seen sparkling with cheery holiday lights. Ironic for a man who believed religion was a form of “spiritual oppression.” During gay-pride festivities, the bronze effigy gets to show off Lenin’s fancy drag style.
“If art is supposed to make us feel, not just feel good, then this sculpture is a successful work of art,” says the The Fremont Chamber on its website.
After the Lenin project, Bevis went on to spearhead another controversial project: restoring the art-deco ferry, the Kalakala. The project ended up dissolving, the Kalakala hit the scrap yard and Bevis sold the Fremont Fine Arts Foundry, where Lenin’s bronze statue was reassembled.