BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Comrades! Lenin will rise again!
Oh, probably, in…umm….about month or so. …
For the moment, though, he is lying on a Lower East Side rooftop at 178 Norfolk St.
Michael Shaoul, who originally brought the Soviet statue to the then-new Red Square apartment building, at 250 E. Houston St., back in 1994, gave an update on the artwork’s whereabouts and future on Friday.
“At the moment, the statue is lying on its back on the roof of 178,” he said. “He will be installed on a new plinth sometime in the next few weeks — our guess is a month. We intend him to be visible from the street once he is installed.”
Red Square is under contract to be sold, and apparently the owners just didn’t see Lenin as part of its future. Shaoul and Michael Rosen — the building’s original developer, who currently lives in Vietnam — are not actually owners of the property, Shaoul stressed.
“I run the managing agent for Red Square under the current ownership,” Shaoul explained. “Michael Rosen is a passive partner in Red Square, I have no ownership in the building — the news stories have been wrong for 20 years on that part. Michael Rosen and I are partners in a few real-estate partnerships that own East Village buildings — including 178 Norfolk St.”
At any rate, Shaoul took it upon himself to remove the renowned red leader and then relocate him to the new spot, just a block away — otherwise, the statue might well have wound up on the scrapheap of history. The sculpture made a brief detour to Queens before returning to the L.E.S.
“Once I understood that the statue would be removed,” Shaoul said. “I worked out a deal with ownership to take him down at our expense and re-erect him at 178 Norfolk St. He has already been hoisted back up to that property (he only had to spend the night in Queens — unlike Eddie Murphy), and we will erect him once we have carried out some minor repairs and worked out a way to keep him secure — hopefully, in a few weeks. 178 Norfolk is only six stories tall, but it is opposite the playground that runs to Essex St. along Houston, and so it should have decent sightlines, if not the lofty perch of Red Square. We carried out this move at our expense since we have become fond of the statue over the years,” he said, “and so I am very pleased to see the generally positive response.”
He said Peter Marciano, who maintains all of Shaoul and Rosen’s jointly owned buildings, “is the real hero of this episode.”
“He worked out all the logistics and permitting required to carry out the job in a very limited timeframe — and even managed to convince the cops that the statue was not being stolen,” Shaoul said. “It would never have happened without him.”
Shaoul spent last Friday fondly snapping some final shots of the Marxist monument at its longtime E. Houston St. location, before its departure for new digs nearby.
“Erecting Lenin was an act of my youth, while moving him is an act of a middle-aged man, and I felt the passage of time,” he reflected, wistfully. “In a sense, the original idea to put him up there was a memorial to changing times. We started the project in 1991 just after the Berlin Wall came down. In a much more prosaic manner, I have seen times change, as well.
“When we erected him in 1994, we placed him carefully to be gazing and waving at the Twin Towers. We have some great postcards dating from that period. We never thought he would outlast them.
“Of course by the time he came down, he was waving at a couple of large rental buildings that had been built across the street,” Shaoul said. “The neighborhood and city have changed, generally for the better but not in all ways. The statue will stand in its new home as a reminder that nothing stays the same.”