Moto Artist Repos 4-Ton Statue from H-D Dealer
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Here's an example of the work of Jeff Decker that we shot at Bike Week back in 2008. I give the man props for playing repo man and taking back a four-ton statue valued at $100,00 that he created but allegedly was never paid for. Hope you win your case, Jeff.
Oh what a tangled web we weave. Wanted to share this interesting tidbit that’s been in the news this week.
Last Friday night a motorcycle sculpture was reportedly stolen from in front of a Harley-Davidson
dealership in Lindon, Utah. Only thing is, this bronze statue was six feet long, almost six feet tall, and along with its monolithic granite base, weighed four tons. Now those are some determined thieves.
But the plot thickens. Seems like the statue wasn’t stolen outright, but instead was repossessed by its creator, bronze artist Jeff Decker. Apparently, Decker claims the statue had been on loan to Timpanogos Harley-Davidson for the last two years. Only thing is, the owners of the Harley dealership listed the statue in its current bankruptcy filings. Meanwhile, the dealership has changed hands, and the new owners believe that the statue is rightfully theirs.
The artwork in question, called ‘Land Speed,’ features the crouched figure of man on an old-time land speed racer and is estimated to cost around $100,000. Decker was smart enough to consult his attorney, Randall K. Spencer of Fillmore Spencer LLC before taking action. Mr. Spencer posted this reply to the situation in a forum on the story Cyril Huze
had written for his popular blog:
“On October 13, 2008, Mr. Decker made an agreement with Dave Tuomisto, then owner of Timpanogos Harley-Davidson, wherein Mr. Decker agreed to loan an original work created by Mr. Decker known as the Joe Petrali Landspeed Sculpture to display at Timpanogos Harley-Davidson. Attached hereto is a copy of the signed agreement. The agreement was made between two friends and was not drafted by a lawyer. Nevertheless, the agreement makes it clear that the subject sculpture was on loan to Timpanogos Harley-Davidson period! Furthermore, the agreement makes it clear that Mr. Decker had the right to pick up his original sculpture at any time as long as it was not during business hours. Furthermore, the loan agreement makes it clear that Mr. Decker has the right to not only take the sculpture, but also the stone base to which the sculpture is permanently attached.”
“After a bankruptcy proceeding, Timpanogos Harley-Davidson was purchased by another party. The bankruptcy paperwork for Timpanogos Harley Davidson clearly lists the Joe Petrali statue under paragraph 14 of the bankruptcy form which identifies ‘Property held for another person.’ Hippodrome Studio, owned by Mr. Decker, is identified on Exhibit C relating to paragraph 14 of the bankruptcy filing. While it is regrettable that the attorney preparing the bankruptcy paperwork was not more clear in spelling out that Hippodrome Studio “is the owner of the Joe Petrali sculpture”, there is obviously no other purpose to identify Hippodrome Studio on the bankruptcy paperwork along with the Joe Petrali statue other than to identify its owner. While the current owner of Timpanogos Harley-Davidson apparently has a bill of sale from the bankruptcy court which erroneously identifies Mr. Decker’s sculpture as an asset of Timpanogos Harley-Davidson, Mr. Decker’s sculpture is not and never has been owned in any manner by Timpanogos Harley-Davidson, and an apparent error by the bankruptcy court in including an asset which it did not own or control on a Bill of Sale does not change the legal fact that the subject sculpture is and always has been the property of Mr. Decker.”
Not so fast, claims Timpanogos Harley-Davidson’s co-owner, who claims in a report posted on the Daily Herald
that the “new owners of the business bought Timpanogos Harley-Davidson and its assets in bankruptcy court, and the statue is an asset of the business.”
"It's pretty clear to us," Openshaw said in the report. "It's not like we didn't pay for it. We did pay for it."
To further complicate things, the giant granite block upon which the statue sits has some local historical significance. Supposedly it was used as a counterweight for cranes building the Salt Lake City temple.
Lots of red flags surrounding this story. At least Decker has a written agreement to support his side of the story, but he admits that it wasn’t drafted by a lawyer. The former owners said they paid, but can they prove it? Did Decker know that previous owners of Timpanogos H-D had it listed in their bankruptcy filing or did they keep this information under wraps? The new owners, on the other hand, have a bill of sale from bankruptcy court which lists the sculpture as an asset of Timpanogos Harley-Davidson and believe the statue is rightfully theirs. And Decker did kind of sneak in like a thief in the night to take the statue back, so is a criminal case in the works? If not, I’m certain at the very least a civil lawsuit will be filed.
So where do you stand? Was Decker right to take back what he believes is rightfully his? Personally, I’m cheering for the guy. I can relate to his actions. But I’d like to hear what you think. Justified or not? Sound off below.
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