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Questions surround Harrisburg sculpture - abc27 WHTM

Questions surround Harrisburg sculpture

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Horses are easily found on Harrisburg's City Island.

There's a carousel with hobby horses bobbing up and down.

Actual horses for carriage rides love to chomp on plentiful grass areas.

And lately, there's a statue of a horse about to throw its cowboy sitting just outside the baseball stadium.

The sculpted horse couldn't toss Erin Miller's kids, who just couldn't resist climbing on its base.

The Mechanicsburg mom shielded her eyes from the sun to get a better look at the 8-foot tall statue.

"I don't think it's from around here," Miller said. "It's from out west somewhere."

That's a reasonable hypothesis.

A ticket listed it as Guernsey's item number 5529, from the recently concluded auction of Harrisburg artifacts. The catalogue description said, 'Bronze after Remington. Bronco Buster.' It sold to an online bidder for $7,500.

The piece kind of looks like the famous Remington sculpture, but this one is signed by an artist named Jim Davidson.

That's a rugged, Western sounding name. In fact, it's likely fiction from the Far East.

A Google search of sculptor Jim Davidson unleashes a flood of critics and complainers. They insist there is no Jim Davidson. They speculate that Jim Davidson is really a faux front for knock-offs from Thailand that ignore copyrights and use cheap metals.

Frank DiNunzio of Bressler was checking out the horse and was troubled by the revelation.

"I'm skeptical of all these things today because they're very good at making duplicates in all these foreign countries," he said.

A knock on the horse's flank reveals a hollow, tinny sound. That might be one clue. Another is the snake that is spooking the horse into rearing up. It's a cobra.

"I don't think there were cobras in the American West," DiNunzio said. "It's supposed to be a rattlesnake."

It's impossible to know whether Harrisburg was snake bit on this purchase because we don't know what the city paid for it. It made $7,500. If it paid $1,000, it was a great deal. If the city paid $25,000, it got ripped off.

A city spokesman said record keeping around the artifacts was poor, non-existent, and often inaccurate.

Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey's Auction House, told me as much last week during the heat of the auction.

"We started with warehouses that were packed in no particular order, in fact just the opposite in almost a chaotic fashion," he said. "We tried to make sense of it, but the inventory lists were meaningless."

At no point did Guernsey's vouch for the authenticity of the items being auctioned. It was basically "buyer beware."

Repeated emails and a voicemail to the auctioneer in New York seeking comment for this story were not returned Friday.

But that horse seems unwilling to leave Harrisburg. Though DiNunzio isn't willing to pony up $7,500, he is willing to put it out to pasture.

"It would look nice in our yard," he said with a hearty laugh.

 

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