What is the real value of the statues in your home town, and in big parks and cities around the world? Some would say that monetary value is unquantifiable: statues are erected to memorialize the brave and the wise, or events of great importance to the community. They inspire kinship and desirable behavior, and they honor the past. They may become central to a group’s tradition, and come to represent continuity across the years.
Others would claim the true value of such statues is political. Statues are often contentious: every hero is another man’s villain. Governments and communities will often create public landmarks such as these to send a message to their allies and their enemies alike. Citizens are expected to look in awe at these statues and to pledge allegiance to the moral values that the memorialized figure is suggested to have embodied.
When statues that embody dated values are re-assessed and considered offensive, pulling them down seems like the right thing to do – yet there’s always a less progressive part of society that believes their interests are better protected by the values of a less humane age.
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But of course there’s a third form of value that may be of more interest to investors, metallurgists, or just those who love a good fact! We speak, of course, of the monetary value. Any given statue might be considered to have two monetary values: the value of the statue in its artistic entirety, and the value once it’s broken or melted down and sold for scrap.
Take the forthcoming Statue of Unity in Sadhu Bet, Gujarat, India, for example. Over $135,313,200 alone is going into that mighty figure – a total of over 24,800 tons of bronze. The costs of making it can’t be looted and resold, but they’re expected to level out at around US$460. But it’s unlikely anybody’s going to be able to steal more than a chip or two off this likeness of Indian independence movement leader Vallabhbhai Patel. At 182m tall it will be the tallest statue in the world – and a bit too big to smuggle away in the back of a pick-up truck.
A more modest statue can be found in Abertillery, south Wales, where a 20m sculpture by Sebastien Boyesen pays respect to the 45 miners killed in a 1960 coal mine explosion. This one’s more about the details than the pure scale of the thing: it may be made of just $2,500-worth of CorTen steel, but that steel takes the form of over 20,000 10mm rust-red slices, giving the Guardian a human dimension, and allowing him to blend with the local nature even as he looks benevolently over his traumatized community.
And the Mannekin Pis in Brussels – a 15th century design that was replaced with a replica in 1965 – is valued at just $143 in scrap. That’s assuming he’s not wearing an expensive suit at the time, of course; the little fellow is frequently dressed up by locals to mark special occasions.
For a further look at the true monetary value of famous statues around the world, checkout this monumental new infographic from 911 Metallurgist.