Furio Tedeschi cares not a whit about the criticism heaped on his robo-crypto bull statue, which was unveiled in Miami on Wednesday during a large cryptocurrency conference. The chrome-and-fiberglass work pays homage to Wall Street’s bronze version but carries out the task through maximum maximalism. It stands 11-feet tall, weighs 3,000 pounds and comes covered in programmable blue lights. It likely cost more than a quarter-million dollars.
Explaining his indifference, Tedeschi points to experience with past work. “I’ve worked on Transformers,” he says. “And that always has critics, too.” (His concept art earned him credits on two movies in the series, Bumblebee and The Last Knight.)
But Tedeschi is wondering the same thing as many others. What happened to the bull’s—erm—testicles?
When he submitted the statue’s design to its corporate sponsor, Tradestation, he included that anatomy, he says. “I’m sad to see that they removed them,” Tedeschi says. “I’d designed some huge, mechanical balls.” (Tradestation neutered the creature to ensure it wasn’t seen as promoting a male-focused financial industry. “Prosperity and wealth shouldn’t have any gender,” says Marco Carrucciu, a vice president at the online brokerage.)
The surge in interest and value around cryptocurrencies has sparked a debate stretching into its third decade: What place should crypto assume in finance—how should we weigh the new against the old when the latest version is radically different but increasingly valuable? Which leads to the conversation and controversy around the Miami bull (the new) and the New York bull (the old), a near-perfect extrapolation of that broader fight.
In this latest squabble, a New York magazine headline about the Miami bull called it nothing less than a “crime against god.” Plenty of onlookers took to Twitter to lob their own potshots. “Tacky macho cringe,” concluded @bellyflop club. “Dumb and ugly,” sighed @billcorbett.
The work will eventually move from its current location outside the Miami Beach convention center hosting the Bitcoin 2022 conference to across the bay, residing permanently at Miami Dade College. Miami, city of extremes and excesses, seems pretty happy will all this. A poll by the Miami Herald found 60% of respondents supporting the plan for the bull. Unsurprisingly, crypto faithful from all over like it, too. Changpeng Zhao, the billionaire founder of cypto exchange Binance, posted a picture on Twitter, captioning it: “This iron man #bitcoin bull is pretty cool.” His post received nearly 40,000 likes.
Ironically, the Miami bull was born out of a meeting last summer in New York, where Carrucciu huddled with a boutique marketing agency, Small. The marketers had several other ideas—more conventional ones—they figured Carrucciu would pick. He didn’t. He had his kids in tow, and they loved initial sketches for a robo bull stature, the last proposal by Small. “I had my focus group right in the room with me,” Carrucciu says. The agency approached Tedeschi the following December.
Tedeschi was then in Poland, finishing work on Cyberpunk 2077, another strikingly imagined but controversial work. Small and Tradestation rejected his initial concept, a more straightforward tribute to the New York bull. “They were like, ‘No, no, we do want a robot,’” he recalls. The bull’s subsequent design came together quickly over a matter of a few weeks, Tedeschi drawing inspiration from an unused Transformers concept image, a giant mecha-gorilla. (In addition to Transformers, he’s also spent time on John Krasinski’s first A Quiet Place film and Raised by Wolves, Ridley Scott’s HBO Max sci-fi show.) To get the statue completed to debut at Bitcoin 2022, he suggested Tradestation have it fabricated by a Hollywood special-effects shop, Onyx Forge, which has turned strange ideas into realities since Predator in 1987.
“It’s crazy how everyone is interpreting the bull is in their own way,” Tedeschi says. “I mean, even on my Instagram, I’ve got someone saying it’s satanist.”