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Trinity Church sued by artist for removing sculpture commemorating September 11

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“The Trinity Root” was removed from the church’s grounds in 2015

September 11 Sculpture Arrives At Church Near Ground Zero
“The Trinity Root,” as seen in the courtyard of St. Paul’s Chapel.
Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

As the hubbub over the placement of “Fearless Girl” continues to stir up legal drama, a lawsuit over another statue’s placement is brewing nearby. Sculptor Steve Tobin is suing Trinity Church for moving a statue, which he created for its grounds, without his permission, summoning a law that lets artists maintain rights over their work even when they no longer own it, the Times reports.

The statue, an 18-foot bronze cast commemorating a Sycamore tree that was felled by debris on September 11, was placed in the church’s courtyard in 2005. Tobin’s lawsuit says he learned that it was moved in 2015, and later saw through photographs provided by the church that the statue suffered damage in its move.

“This is about the solemn promise the church gave to Steve Tobin when he offered to create that sculpture,” Steven S. Honigman, Tobin’s lawyer, told the Times. “He offered to create it if the church would give it a permanent place in the courtyard. The church agreed.”

The sculpture was sent upstate to Trinity’s church’s retreat center. The lawsuit alleges that Trinity’s rector Rev. Dr. William Lupfer had the statue moved because “he did not want nonparishioners and ‘hordes of strangers’ to continue to crowd the church’s courtyard.”