Artist wins lawsuit over statue's damaged privates
The City of Penticton will have to pay $14,000 in damages to the creator of Frank the Baggage Handler, a contentious local statue that drew international headlines after vandals repeatedly damaged its male genitalia.
Now, artist Michael Hermesh is being compensated for the rough handling of Frank and his baggage.
Frank the Baggage Handler was first unveiled to the public three years ago as a fixture in a traffic circle in Penticton.
The whimsical two-metre sculpture of a nude man surrounded by suitcases was loved by many but hated by others.
Some people criticized the nudity in the piece; others went further, by knocking off Frank's penis.
It got so bad, artist Michael Hermesh agreed to weld a metal plate over Frank's not-so-private parts.
"I mean that was one place possibly I should have stuck to my guns and said no, but I tried everything to make it workable, and it just wasn't happening," Hermesh told CBC News on Tuesday after winning compensation.
The vandalism sparked headlines around the world, and Hermesh removed the statue in February 2005 to prevent more damage.
"I had to remove the piece in order to prevent further damage to the piece and offered to put it back up again inside," said Hermesh. But the city refused to take Frank back.
"They cancelled my contract, refused to pay me for having made the piece and then refused to pay for repairs," said Hermesh.
So Hermesh sued, and three years after the installation of the statue, he was awarded $14,000 on Tuesday.
"I'm very happy with it. It's not the actual dollar value, although this really hurt me financially. It was the exoneration, I guess," he said.
The story also ends happily for Frank and his baggage. He was purchased by a local winery in nearby Naramata, where he is safely displayed in all his glory.