Nobody ever thinks that when they put up a monument to someone that they'll have to take it down later because the memorialized disgraced themselves. But there are many examples of paintings, monuments and statues that were removed after a person's shame came to light.
Sometimes it was for a little tax evasion, like former Vice-President Spiro Agnew. Other times it was a dictator being removed from the history books, like Lenin or Stalin. And a few times, like in the recent case of Bill Cosby's statue being removed from Walt Disney World, it's because of horrific sex crimes making them an international symbol of ridicule and disgust. Perhaps the most prolific of these was British DJ and philanthropist Jimmy Savile, who had dozens of monuments and memorials destroyed or defaced after his crimes of pedophila were confirmed by British authorities.
Here are 11 disgraced statues, monuments, paintings and memorials that were taken down or otherwise altered because of disgraceful actions by their subjects. Some were destroyed, others simply changed, and a few are still locked away somewhere, ready to be put back up when the public is more forgiving.
In 2011, the King of Pop inexplicably had a memorial statue raised at Craven Cottage, the stadium where English soccer team Fulham plays. The 7 foot tall plaster and resin monument was put up by the club’s owner, Mohamed Al-Fayed, who had it made for the famed department store Harrods.
When they didn’t want it, Al-Fayed put it up outside Craven Cottage, much to the dismay of fans who weren’t buying Al-Fayed’s explanation that it was to commemorate Jackson’s attendance at a Fulham match in 1999. After Al-Fayed sold the team, the statue was removed. He gave the statue to Britain's National Football Museum in 2014.
Shortly after the 2019 HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland, came out accusing Jackson of sexual misconduct against minors, his monument was removed from the museum. The museum did not explicitly connect the documentary to the removal, but a spokeswoman announced that the decision came out of a desire to "better represent the stories [they] want to tell."
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After news broke that Cosby admitted in a court deposition to obtaining drugs with which to rape women, Walt Disney World responded to a circulating petition and removed a bust of the comic from their Hollywood Studios theme park.
In April 2018, Cosby was found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault and faces up to 10 years in prison.
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In the aftermath of the Penn State sex abuse scandal, a 7 foot tall bronze statue of their legendary head coach that had been put up in 2001 was taken down by the university. The statue is currently stored “in a secure location” and despite numerous calls to put it back up, no decision has been reached on what to do with it.
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