Missing Chicago sculptures could come home

Owner says he'll sell the pieces to anyone who'll return them to their original location

December 26, 2012

By Rebecca Kruth

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(Flickr/Cliff Dix Jr and Zol87)
Two of the John Kearney sculptures in their original Lakeview location.

There’s a chance that three beloved sculptures removed from Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood last November could come back.

The shiny steel giraffes and nanny goat, which are the work of Chicago sculptor John Kearney, had been neighborhood staples for more than 30 years.

The owner of the sculptures, Milton Zale of Zale Management Company, had them removed when he sold the property. He says the new owners, a group of investors including Chicago Apartment Finders, had liability concerns.

The sudden disappearance of the pieces saddened many nearby residents, including Heather Fowler and her two-year-old son.

“He always looks for them, and he always asks where they are,” Fowler said. “For a while I told him they were sleeping, and now I just say they’re gone.” 

Fowler was happy to hear the works might come home.

The owner, Zale, says he’s having the pieces refurbished and appraised. The process won’t be complete until late January or early February.

He says he’ll sell them to anyone willing to return them to their original location, including Chicago Apartment Finders. Otherwise, Zale says he’ll probably have the sculptures placed in a museum.

Justin Elliott, the founder of Chicago Apartment Finders, said investors are waiting to hear the appraisal results. If the price is "reasonable," he said, they'll work with community groups to try to buy the sculptures back. If not, he said they hope to find artists to install new work at the Lakeview site.

Erin Duffy is director of community outreach for Ald. Tunney’s office in the 44th Ward. She says the alderman’s office still gets calls and emails from residents for updates on the missing giraffes and goat. 

“A lot of residents are interested in bringing them back since they are such an iconic part of Lakeview,” Duffy said. “Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can really do until Milton Zale hears back about the finished refurbishment and how much the sculptures are being appraised for.”

Duffy says the alderman’s office plans to follow up with Zale and keep residents informed of any updates.