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Bryan's Blog

Moto Artist Repos 4-Ton Statue from H-D Dealer

Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Not only does artist Jeff Decker do great work in bronze  hes also a custom builder.
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.
Post Tags: Jeff Decker, Land Speed statue, Timpanogos
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Comments
Sam Elbe -Citizen January 7, 2010 08:51 AM
I am glad that the guy that made it and never got paid has it back in his studio. When a thief sells something that doesn't belong to him, it still belongs to the original owner. HOW MANY TIME HAS THAT BEEN THROUGH THE PROCESS. Jeff Decker is the original owner and still owns the statue. Jeff, it looks like the one at the HD museum.
Big Jake -The Fat Man January 7, 2010 08:08 AM
Didn't someone once try to sell the Brooklyn Bridge even though they didn't own it or have the right to sell? Wonder how this bankruptcy court thing is any different.
John McHan -Statue January 7, 2010 04:12 AM
It would appear from your story that if the original owner of the dealership can not provide positive proof of purchase of the statue then it does indeed belong to it's creater. As for sneaking in like a thief, the original agreement stated that the statue could be picked up any time except during business hours. That means at 3AM if the owner should want.
The error here is in the dealership having listed owner ship of the piece when they apparently have no proof. My call here is that the creater of the piece has the right to repo it and the new owner of the dealership should turn to the original owners of the dealership to recover any apparent loses.
Harry Balz -Chief BS Artist January 6, 2010 05:11 PM
Who was it who once opined: "Possesion is 9/10 of the law"? I would say if the original sculptor has his paperwork in order, then the bankrupcy court made a fox paw by not having their feces in one pile. Clearly, the owner of the bankrupt Harley store erred in his listing the statue and base as being owned as opposed to on loan. So, if you said the store owner robbed the bank and the bankrupcy clerk drove the getaway car. you would not be far from wrong. My opinion would be that the rightful owner repossed his property which the store owner illegally showed as an asset. At the end of the day, the court will let the statue go with the rightful owner, the man who created it and was never compensated.