After being sued for breach of contract, Fearless Girl sculptor Kristen Visbal says the problem was a simple case of miscommunication and that she has refunded the money given to her by the U.S. Coast Guard Alumni Association.
The association sued the Lewes-based artist in January, claiming she was paid $28,000 to make a 9-foot-tall statue of Alexander Hamilton but never made it. The lawsuit said the contract obligated Visbal to produce the statue’s primary model by April 17, 2017, with the full statue produced by Oct. 11, 2018.
Visbal gained international acclaim in March 2017 after her Fearless Girl statue, standing down the bull on Wall Street, was unveiled as part of International Women’s Day. She was contracted by State Street Global Advisors to create the work as a call for inclusion of women in the male-dominated Wall Street community.
When news of the lawsuit broke, Visbal could not be reached for comment.
In a prepared statement Feb. 18, Visbal said she could now respond because a mutual resolution has been reached and the claim is pending dismissal.
“This issue is one of communication lost in the onslaught of inquiries which followed and continue over the overwhelming popularity of Fearless Girl,” wrote Visbal.
Visbal said 10 association members approached her in March 2016 to create a bronze sculpture of Hamilton, who founded the Coast Guard. She said she spent over 1,000 hours working on the project, which consisted of multiple research trips and the creation of 72 renderings. A refined subject matter such as Hamilton typically would require 2 to 3 sketches, she said.
Visbal said, despite all the work, the association group committed solely to a 21-inch miniature clay statue as a study for a future 9-foot bronze statue. She said that contract was signed Feb. 22, 2017, just 13 days prior to the unveiling of Fearless Girl.
“There was never a contract for a 9-foot bronze,” she said “I was prepared and waiting to move forward on this Hamilton project for an entire year. Yet, when these men finally did move forward, unavoidably, my availability was severely altered overnight with the unveiling of Fearless Girl. It simply took too long for the Coast Guard Alumni project to move forward, and I could no longer create it.”
Visbal said she notified the association she would not meet the deadline and suggested hiring another sculptor a full 15 months prior to their scheduled unveiling.
“I regret a claim was ever necessary. Though the Coast Guard Alumni group sent a letter to me, I never saw or found their unread email until I heard of their pending claim. There is still correspondence I have been unable to answer,” Visbal said. “Most cannot comprehend the sheer volume received. I continue to work alone due to the endless sensitivities behind Fearless Girl and have not created one new sculpture since the work was unveiled two years ago.”
Visbal said when she was notified of the pending claim, she issued a letter and a substantial refund check weeks in advance of any press coverage, despite her great investment of time and expense.
Capt. Bob McKenna, Coast Guard Alumni Association vice president of development, said Feb. 20 he had no comment, other than to say it was still pending and that the association is hoping to have it resolved.