The Story Behind the Charging Bull Statue on the Bund

By Ned Kelly, December 19, 2020

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Seen by many as a middle finger to the West – and the US in particular – the Bund’s ‘Charging Bull’ has become a popular attraction on Shanghai’s iconic Bund waterfront. At 5.2-meters long, 3.2-meters high and a whopping 2.5 tons in weight, it is almost identical to the original Wall Street Bull on which it is based – only “redder, younger and stronger,” according to the artist of both, Arturo Di Modica.

Designed to represent the growing virulence and power of China’s economy, it was unveiled on May 15, 2010, after the global financial crisis and just ahead of Shanghai’s Expo extravaganza, in a boast that the country was immune to the economic woes of the rest of the world.

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Today, crowds flock to the site to grab a handful of the sculpture’s testicles, the rubbing of which is thought to bring good fortune. Other popular uses for the creature include hanging bags on its horns and riding it like a rodeo bronco.

Di Modica’s original bovine was given as a Christmas present to the City of New York following the stock market crash of 1987 as a symbol of the aggression, strength and energy of the financial system. At the time, the artist was an unknown, who funded the piece by selling his farm in Sicily.

Trucking it to the middle of Broad Street, he deposited the beast, guerrilla style, under a 60-foot Christmas tree on December 15, 1989. It was later impounded by authorities but returned to a nearby location following protests from the public and claims the removal had adversely affected the stock market.

Having capitalized extensively off the back of his first bull, Di Modica was sufficiently rich to nonchalantly give Shanghai its own beast for free without batting an eyelid.

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For more on Shanghai's statues and sculptures, click hereFor more history stories, click here.

[All images by Nicky Almasy]

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