$400,000 For Camel Sculpture At U.S. Embassy In Pakistan?


When this first came to our attention it’s important to note that I found it to be inflammatory journalism. The words “taxpayer money” and “taxpayer dollars” so peppered the report that it was a fairly clear case of shock reporting. $400,000 when you look at the State Department’s budget is nothing. Taken as part of the entire federal budget it’s even less. Point is, you are never going to please anybody.

Taking away food stamps tops many people’s budget wish lists, though presumably those that need to eat and rely on food stamps might argue this path. With the legalization of marijuana by two states recently, many are recognizing the folly of spending millions upon millions of dollars on marijuana eradication or worse the incarceration of those that have fallen on the wrong side of federal law regarding its sale and cultivation. Never mind the cost in both dollars and lives that was the latest incursion into Iraq.

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Camel sculpture: Waste of money?

The life-sized white camel, made from fiberglass, is depicted staring through the eye of a needle reminding many of the New Testament story that suggests that the “rich” will struggle to enter “heaven.”

However, the report that explains the purchase said this, “This artist’s product is uniquely qualified,” the document explains. “Public art which will be presented in the new embassy should reflect the values of a predominantly Islamist country.”

Steven Beyer of Beyer Projects, the art dealer for the project, said the government was the one that contacted him. “They approached us,” he said in a phone interview with BuzzFeed. “We were, of course, quite surprised.”

Camel Sculpture’s $400,000 price tag

The $400,000 price tag “is actually a very a reduced price for this Camel sculpture,” he said. “There is an art market that makes these prices, and this is one of the most prominent American artists.” An identical piece sits outside of Hall Wines in St. Helena, Napa County, California.

Responding to suggestions of frivolity, and to a lesser extent making my point, Beyer said, “It depends on what part of the public you are in,” he said. “If you go to the museum and enjoy art and are moved by it, things cost what they cost.”