Lenin Is Gone From Red Square, but His Return Is Foretold: 'It Will Piss a Lot of People Off'

Lenin lies in repose last night.
Lenin lies in repose last night.
Photo by Stacie Joy courtesy of EV Grieve

If you’re the rare type of observational walker who looks up, you’ve almost certainly noticed the likeness of Vladimir Lenin surveying his kingdom from atop the Red Square, which in this case is a thirteen-floor luxury apartment building located at 250 East Houston. There he stood, arm aloft in salutation, as if welcoming the city’s pigeons to come poop on his shoulder, as if they needed any further invitation.

On Monday night, Lenin's 22-year reign over the neighborhood ended at the hand of some workers wielding a massive crane, which they used to pluck him from the roof, load him into a truck, and shuttle him off to Queens, according to EV Grieve. This morning, a man who answered the phone at the number listed for Red Square — and declined to identify himself — told the Voice that the statue was safe, and would reappear in Manhattan again shortly.

"It’s in the same place as Dick Cheney — an undisclosed location," the man said, adding, "I don’t even know how you got this number. I haven’t answered the phone in fourteen years." (Another call to the number went straight to the voicemail of Tompkins Square Realty, which leases the property.)

The man confirmed that the statue was initially removed to Queens, but has already been returned to Manhattan. It needs to be cleaned and touched up a bit — Lenin’s got some tears, he said — but it will be brought back within a few months.

"It’s going to be cool. That’s all I can say," he said, before continuing to answer a reporter’s barrage of questions:

Will it be high up again? "Not as high as it could be."

Will it be on a roof again? "Yes. I was trying to put it on my terrace, but I couldn’t get it up there this morning."

Is this a Banksy thing? "What the hell is Banksy?" 

Lenin in his glory, in 2010
Lenin in his glory, in 2010

Red Square (the apartment complex) was built in 1989 by Michael Rosen, a professor-of-radical-sociology-turned-developer. In August, the building was reportedly bought by Dermot Co. for around $100 million.

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The eighteen-foot-tall Lenin, for his part, was commissioned by the Soviet Union before it collapsed, leaving the piece somewhat lacking in purpose. Rosen’s partner bought the disused statue in 1994, and it’s been on the roof ever since, until last night.

The man also said that Lenin’s owners wanted to cut the statue up and scrap it, but he wouldn’t allow it. A passerby watching the statue’s descent offered $100,000 to buy it, but he didn’t have the cash on hand. So it’s for sale? "Nope," the man said.

"When it’s installed, it will piss a lot of people off."


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