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10 Weird Things That Have Happened to the Wall Street Bull

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Since it was installed more than 20 years ago, the 7,100-pound, three-and-a-half ton bull that sits in New York's Bowling Green Park has been mistaken as an official symbol of the financial industry.

In fact, unknown to many young New Yorkers, not to mention tourists, "Charging Bull" does not belong to the city, nor any bank, nor a banking association. It remains the property of Arturo DiModica, the Italian-American sculptor who created the massive, eternally charging bronze animal and dragged it at night, without permission, to sit under a Christmas tree near the New York Stock Exchange.

Here's how the New York Times announced the bull's arrival in mid-December 1989:

Wall Street awoke to a gigantic bull on its doorstep yesterday - a 3 1/2-ton 16-foot-long bronze sculpture by an artist from SoHo who deposited it outside the New York Stock Exchange and declared it a Yuletide symbol of the ''strength and power of the American people.''

Hundreds of people walked around, gawked at, admired and stroked the long-horned whip-tailed bull, the image of a surging market in the lore of high finance.

But the symbolism was apparently lost on the Police Department, which said the work had no permit and was obstructing traffic at the busy intersection of Wall and Broad Streets, and even on the stock exchange, which hired a trucking company and had the humongous thing carted away.

Fans protested and the bull was brought back, allowed to stay on site as a gift from the artist. Since then, the bull has become a city landmark, recognized the world over as a symbol of the Street's prowess. It has also become, naturally, an easy target for protesters, performance artists and other attention-seekers in need of a venue.

Over the years, and especially since the beginning of the economic downturn, "Charging Bull" has seen a number of strange things done to -- or near -- it. A quick review of those events we have on record shows that it has been...

...wrapped in a custom-knit sweater  (just before Christmas 2010)

..."baptized" in blood

... prayed over by Evangelical Christians 

...swaddled in some tighty-whities (an ambush marketing gag)

...implicated in the "deaths" of anti-bailout activists

...redesigned to look younger and leaner for a site, officially approved, on the Bund

...convincingly deflated

... washed in "golden rule" cloths

... given the Bollywood treatment in a film called "Kal Ho Naa Ho"

...and danced, er, at?:

As we all know, thousands of times per day, the bull is stroked and molested in the most undignified manner.

Get in there!

According to modern folklore of unspecified origin, rubbing the Bull's privates this way is supposed to bring a visitor good luck. But the practice has not taken off in Shanghai, where the skinny Bund Bull is said to hang loose without the fear of being caressed.

Only time will tell if the hands-off approach will provide the good fortune Shanghai's bourse needs to compete globally by 2020, or be Asia's largest exchange by 2013.

In the meantime, we're betting that no one's going to risk crocheting any sweaters or giant underwear for that bull anytime soon. God Bless America!



POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.