In late 2017, then-Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced the city would be spending $90,000 of Renew Atlanta bond funds to erect a statue of Evander Holyfield, immortalizing the homegrown boxing icon near downtown’s Woodruff Park.
The sculpture, crafted by artist Brian Hanlon, stood nine feet tall, coated in bronze. The intent was to memorialize the living legend in his prime fighting form—in full boxing attire, muscles bulging.
The piece was part of a $4.4 million program meant to enliven downtown, Midtown, and Southwest Atlanta with new public art.
Now, nearly a year and a half later, long after the City of Atlanta had paid the tab for the installation, it’s nowhere to be seen at the Flatiron Building adjacent the park, where it was supposed to be planted.
So what happened?
Hanlon, who’s best known locally for his bronze Dominique Wilkins sculpture outside State Farm Arena and the Bobby Cox effigy fronting the Atlanta Braves’s SunTrust Park, told Curbed Atlanta in an email that the city has his piece somewhere in storage.
“I wish they would find a home for it,” he said.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’s press secretary Michael Smith told Curbed the mayor’s office was looking into the matter, but he did not respond when asked about Hanlon’s claim that officials had stashed the artwork somewhere.
Downtown resident and architect Kyle Kessler said that, while he supports honoring the esteemed boxer somehow, this effort might not have been the best way to spend taxpayer cash.
“This sculpture doesn’t seem like the best use of our limited 2015 Renew Atlanta bond dollars,” he told Curbed, referring to the underfunded program city voters approved in 2015.
Added Kessler: “I doubt voters were expecting this was how their money was going to be spent to fix our city’s billion-dollar infrastructure backlog.”