In the early morning of July 1, 2020, Albuquerque news station KRQE got the first of a flurry of emails, reporting a new statue erected in front of the doors of Albuquerque’s city hall. Apparently bronze, life-sized, and frowning, it was a statue of the late disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
An international group called Antlion Entertainment Art Collective took credit for the statue, which is actually a remodeled mannequin, painted bronze, but the actual artist remains anonymous. Through a voice changer, he allowed himself to be interviewed by KRQE.
“We think we need an Epstein statue in every school because otherwise how are students even going to learn he existed?” he said dryly, a pointed satire of the argument commonly used to defend statues of slave owners, Confederate generals, and other controversial figures. Epstein, who plead 34 charges of sexual assault of a minor down to two in 2005, served 13 months in prison with an open-door policy just for him, and went on to die in prison awaiting charges related to trafficking girls as young as 12 in 2019, is just such a figure.
“If we don’t have statues of Epstein up, how can we prevent predatory behavior?” the anonymous artist continued, hammering home the point of his satire. “We maybe need statues of people like Epstein, maybe schools can even have statue parks with people like Hitler, and Mao and Lenin just so that we can really you know, remember history.”
The Jeffrey Epstein statue was removed swiftly by the Albuquerque Department of Municipal Development. According to their spokesperson, no permission was sought for its placement, and it will be destroyed.
Antlion, which has not made itself easy to contact, says that similar statements will be put up elsewhere around the country and abroad by their other chapters.
Photo: A fountain at Albuquerque city center. Credit: Shutterstock