“Legs,” the 16-foot tall sculpture of a woman’s legs made by Larry Rivers that has stood on the lawn of the private home in Sag Harbor of two art gallery owners for almost 10 years, has been vandalized. The police are investigating and the perps have not been found. From a photo of the famous legs, however, I think I know what happened. So the police can save the cost of the investigation.
It’s red paint on the glossy white legs, and I think from where it’s hit—where the butt would be, 16-feet up, if it had one (it has an abstraction for a butt)—and from the shape of the splat of the red paint up there, I’d say it was a drive-by.
Madison Street, which passes in front of the house where the sculpture stands, is 20 feet down the street from the sculpture. The red paint might have been thrown or brushed, but it looks to me more like a paintball splat. If that is correct, then it’s also true that two shots were fired. One hit the back of the upper thigh. The other hit the butt, fair and square on the abstraction. It’s pretty good shooting, but not marksman. That about sums it up, in my opinion.
Some neighbors have vehemently objected to this sculpture since it was put up in 2008, and the Village building inspector responded to the complaints. He gave it a citation and then another citation and another. Years passed. The matter went to court. The citations ceased. The owners of the sculpture, Ruth Vered and Janet Lehr, who said “Legs” is an art piece, lost that court battle, so they appealed. The wheels of justice turned. They lost again. In 2015, Sag Harbor issued an order that the sculpture be removed. It was not removed. More time passed. According to the citations, the sculpture is 16-feet high, but the maximum is 15 feet for accessory structures, which is what a state supreme court justice said it was in 2015. It’s too close to the property line, so it violates zoning setbacks, the village says.
In a related case, a month ago, the building inspector issued a summons to a new convenience store and gas station on Hampton Road in Sag Harbor, that their 60-foot flagpole was too high. Patriotism has its limits. Mute the hoopla. And the general public, through Twitter, etc., learned of this and wondered why Larry’s “Legs” were still there.
More citations were issued to the owners of Larry’s “Legs.” But building inspector Tom Preito explained it so anyone could see it was just coincidence. “It was decided that enough time has passed for them to have taken the legs down,” said Preito—who at this point could be a new building inspector replacing one who retired who replaced an earlier one, as so much time has gone by—to the Southampton Press.
Time marches on. Larry’s “Legs” are in mid-stride and appear to be going somewhere, but have not. Up above and across town, the American flag flutters illegally.
There’s a sculpture by Antonio Canova, “Perseus with the Head of Medusa,” wearing nothing but a helmet, holding a sword in one hand and the severed head of Medusa. It is disgustingly brutal, anatomically correct and currently on display nearby—at the Met in NYC. I wonder what would happen if it were purchased by a Sag Harbor billionaire and placed on the front lawn of his private home in Sag Harbor. I bet the neighbors would have heart attacks.