Life - Style Updated: January 26, 2023

Ten Most Controversial Statues In The World

By Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi
January 26, 2023

Controversies around statues are nothing new as they frequently become the subject of debate.

This is because they are frequently made in honour of certain occasions, famous individuals, or items.

Controversies around statues have occasionally resulted in protests and even riots.

It is not uncommon for statues to cause such strife throughout many nations.

Confederate generals and leader monuments have long been a point of dispute in Europe. 


Similar controversies have been caused by sculptures of the Devil, Hitler, and even a dog in other places around the world. 

Let's take a look at ten of the most controversial statues in the world. 

10. Lucifer Of Liege

Inside the St. Paul Cathedrale de Liege in Belgium is a statue of Lucifer known as the Lucifer of Liege.

Le genie du mal is the official name of the statue (The Genius of Evil).


Guillaume Geefs created it as a sculpture in 1848.

The statue of Lucifer created for the cathedral was not the Genius of Evil. That sculpture called L'ange du Mal (The Angel of Evil) was created in 1842 by Guillaume's brother, Joseph.

Soon after its unveiling, The Angel of Evil sparked a debate. Leaders of the church were worried that it was too lovely for the Devil and that it would have a bad impact on the children who attended the church. 

They paid Guillaume to create a new sculpture. The new sculpture is equally stunning on its own.

Its wings gracefully form a wall around the Devil. In addition, the Devil has little horns on his head and sharp claws that stick out from his toes.


At his feet is an apple that has been partially consumed.

9. Brown Dog Statue

At the centre of a dispute that led to significant riots in the early 20th century was the brown dog statue in Battersea, London.

The statue that stands now is an upgrade.

After several demonstrations and rioting between proponents of vivisection (the use of animals in studies) and opponents of vivisection (who opposed the practice), the original monument was taken down. 

Anti-vivisection activists presented the first monument in 1906.

It was dedicated to all dogs, especially the brown dog that had several operations over two months in 1903 at the University College of London.

A plaque that was fastened to the statue's pedestal denounced the use of surgical dogs.

The phrase inscribed on the plague offended the vivisectionists.

On December 10, 1907, 1,000 vivisectionist medical students demonstrated against the monument in Trafalgar Square, and an additional 100 people demonstrated nearby Battersea.

The police started guarding the statue day and night out of concern that the vivisectionists would harm it.

The police and city council decided to take down the statue in 1910.

120 police policemen escorted four city officials as they removed it covertly at night. It is said that two years later, it melted away.

The statue was changed by opponents of vivisection in 1985, and it hasn't been touched since then.


8. J. Marion Sims

Modern gynaecology is credited as having its roots in J. Marion Sims.

He developed a remedy for vesicovaginal fistulas (VVF) in the 1840s, which are tears that frequently result during delivery and allow the bladder to seep into the vagina.

In addition to managing VVF, Sims established the first hospital for women in New York and created fresh surgical techniques to handle diseases specific to female patients.

Despite his contribution to enhancing the health of women, Sims continues to be a very contentious figure. He conducted several tests on African slave women.

With no anaesthesia, he performed his VVF procedures on ladies he had purchased. Some even had repeated surgeries.

Sims received a statue in Central Park as payment for his labour, while the slave women received nothing.

Since 1959, the statue has been the focus of debate. It was ultimately taken down in April 2018 as a result of several protests.


7. Blue Mustang

The 32-foot-tall, 9.8-meter-tall Blue Mustang statue of a horse is located outside the Denver International Airport.

The statue is both infamous and divisive. Critics have even dubbed it "Blucifer."

It is simple to understand why Blue Mustang does not have a large following.

It has eyes that shine neon red. Although it was included by the statue's artist, Luis Jimenez, to symbolize the Wild West, other people think it merely made the figure look ugly and diabolical.

It didn't help that Jimenez himself was killed when a piece of his work collapsed on him.

The statue was commissioned in 1993, but Luis Jimenez could not finish it before passing away in 2006.

It was finished by his son and unveiled in 2008 near the airport's main entrance. Negative feedback soon followed.

Many detractors even recommended moving the statue to a location within the airport so passengers wouldn't have to view it.

Authorities, however, left it alone in the hopes that people would become used to it.


6. Pissing Pug

The statues Fearless Girl and Charging Bull on Wall Street in New York City now include a statue of a pug by artist Alex Gardega, who completed the addition in May 2017.

Fearless Girl was introduced earlier in 2017, while Charging Bull has been a fixture on Wall Street since 1985.

The statue's creator, Kristen Visbal, said that her intention was just to promote gender equality.

Charging Bull's sculptor, Arturo Di Modica, objected to Fearless Girl's placement directly in front of his monument.

He said that it changed his bull's significance, which had nothing to do with gender equality.

Whether Fearless Girl had anything to do with gender equality was unimportant to Gardega.

Given that the monument was paid for by the renowned financial firm State Street Global Advisors, he saw it as nothing less than advertising.

Gardega responded by erecting a little monument of a pug peeing on the girl.

Among feminists and women's rights organizations, the pug caused controversy.

They all began criticising Gardega angrily practically as soon as Pissing Pug was revealed.

Gardega was even referred to as a "misogynistic, pathetic bastard" by actress Debra Messing.

He removed his dog three hours later over fears that someone would steal it.

5. Karl Marx

The man who is credited with founding communism is Karl Marx. Marxism is the name for his political beliefs, which are still taught in nations like China.

In the West, both are divisive and hated.

Karl Marx's 4.5-meter (15-foot) statue in the German town of Trier sparked a debate, which was not surprising given his background and how the West views Marxism and communism.

The dispute was exacerbated by the fact that China had sent the statue as a gift.

The Trier town council debated whether to remove the statue for two years.

They were concerned that collecting it may give the impression that they backed the Chinese government's abuse of human rights.

The statue should not be unveiled in Trier, according to the German chapter of Pen, the worldwide writers' organisation, until China releases house arrestee Liu Xia, the wife of the late Liu Xiaobo, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping made a speech honouring Marx and Marxism around the time the statue was inaugurated in Trier in May 2018.

The statue, according to town mayor Wolfram Leibe, is only a "gesture of friendliness."

4. Statue Of Unity

Although we have so far concentrated on completed statues, we have a rare instance of an unfinished statue that was already causing controversies before it was completed. 

In India, the Statue of Unity is erected. It is the highest statue in the world at 182 meters (597 feet).

That record was previously held by China's 153-meter-tall (502-foot) Buddha.

For reference, the Statue of Liberty is 93 meters (305 feet) tall (including the base).

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India's first deputy prime minister and one of those who battled for the country's freedom, serves as the inspiration for the Statue of Unity.

The monument has drawn criticism for both its high price and its political overtones.

According to detractors, Patel would never have approved spending £200 million for his statue if he were still alive.

The antagonists also said that helping the millions of poor Indians would have been a better use of the funds.

Critics also believe that Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who ordered the statue, wanted to utilize Patel's reputation to advance his political agenda.

Modi himself has previously stated that Patel would have been a superior prime minister compared to Jawaharlal Nehru, who was elected as India's first leader.

The Statue of Unity was however completed on October 2018.  


3. Petra

When he debuted Petra, a monument of a peeing policewoman, in Dresden, Germany, in 2011, artist Marcel Walldorf sparked controversy.

The police officer is squatting to urinate while wearing riot gear. A gelatin puddle that represents her pee is on the ground.

The monument was entered by Walldorf in a contest run by the Leinemann Foundation for Fine Arts, where it won first place and €1,000 in cash.

The issue began when the statue was put on exhibit at the Academy of Fine Arts.

It was criticised as being offensive to all police personnel.

It "breached the bounds of creative expression," the German Police Union stated. Many others expressed their dissatisfaction by writing letters to the academy (directed at the artist).

Andrea Weippert, the spokesperson of the academy, downplayed the critics, saying the majority of the feedback they received was positive. 

2. Replica Of Christ The Redeemer

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is well known.

How about its 121-foot (37 meters) towering relative in Lima, Peru?

As a personal present to the Peruvian people, it was commissioned in 2011 by the country's departing president, Alan Garcia.

President Garcia and the engineering company Odebrecht, located in Brazil, co-funded the monument.

Garcia sent 100,000 soles from Peru, while Odebrecht gave $830,000.

Given that it is not a charitable organization, Odebrecht did not just donate this sum. It had some extra cash since it had been awarded a lucrative contract to build a roadway between Brazil and Peru.

More people opposed the monument than supported it. It received harsh criticism for being unoriginal and expensive.

Some thought it strange that Garcia spent such a large sum of money on a replica of a more well-known statue. Peruvian architects appeared to dislike the monument.

Students of architecture organized several protests to voice their unhappiness.

Popular architect Augusto Ortiz de Zevallos condemned it for being too unoriginal and called it "excessive and autocratic."

He likened it to the monuments of Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini.


1. Him

"Him" is a statue of Adolf Hitler who is sculpted kneeling for prayer. Hitler is controversial in and of himself.

But Maurizio Cattelan, the statue's creator, could have avoided controversy in 2012 by not deciding to place the statue in the old ghetto in Warsaw, Poland.

During World War II, an estimated 300,000 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto either perished or were transferred to detention camps.

Jews spoke out strongly against the statue.

A Jewish advocacy organization called the Simon Wiesenthal Center claimed the statue was disrespectful and insensitive to the Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.

Hitler's lone "prayer," according to the organization's director in Israel, Efraim Zuroff, "was that they [the Jews] be wiped off the face of the earth."

Cattelan and his followers, however, claimed that the statue's sole purpose was to provoke people's imaginations about the potential for seemingly good things to turn wicked.

Join our Telegram platform to get news update
Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi

Rasheed is a Prolific Content Writer who also has a niche in all Genres of Literature, Academic Pape...

More From this Author

0 Comment(s)




See this post in...