The Father Marquette statue was vandalized for the second time in less than a year Friday night, just three days after a $1,500 two-day refurbishing effort.
Green paint covered Father Marquette’s eyes and dripped down to nearly knee-level, leading officials to believe it was the work of a paintball gun. The city of Marquette promptly cleaned off the majority
of the paint with a graffiti removal spray, but technically it’s not their responsibility.
The Marquette Beautification committee took over legal ownership o
f the statue from the city last July for one year in order to make the much-needed repairs. They paid one of the nation’s top sculptural restoration firms, Venus Bronze Works based out of Detroit, over $10,000 to have the statue’s reliefs restored after raising money for the project for the past eight years. Coincidentally, just as the work started the statue was vandalized with red paint, costing the committee another $1,200.
“Our committee is just volunteers. This isn’t our business. We just do this because we think it’s important,” said Barb Kelly, the Vice President of the committee. “But when an individual or individuals violate your work. it’s just so disheartening. It makes you feel terrible.”
“I think we now, as a community, should have some dialogue. We have a dedicationcoming up here in another month. I think once that dedication is over with that this community has to come forward and decide how we’re going to protect this treasure,” remarked Jerry Irby, a member of the committee.
The city will relinquish control of the statue at that dedication ceremony July 15th. The party responsible for vandalizing the monument is still at large. The committee has posted a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.
“This statue is worth about a half a million dollars. This is a very serious crime. It might be way more than a misdemeanor. I’m not sure what the actual ramifications are, but it’s a very serious crime to deface a piece of public art. It’s not exactly the Mona Lisa, but it’s the closest thing Marquette has to a Mona Lisa. So I’m not sure, if this is a young person, that they have any idea [about] the value of this art object. It’s irreplaceable,” Kelly noted.
The crime falls under the category of a felony for malicious destruction of property and the perpetrator could face jail time upwards of 10 years, or a fine of up to $15,000 or 3 times the amount of the destruction.