It was the perfect West Hollywood crime on Santa Monica Boulevard in the summer of 2013. As we post this Flashback Friday to West Hollywood Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission’s “Cloned Bulldogs with Water Bottle” art installation by artist William Sweetlove, someone somewhere currently has a 200-pound pink bulldog sculpture with sneakers and a water bottle backpack in their possession.
Nine years later, the stolen pink pooch could be on display in someone’s backyard, or possibly hidden in a garage or basement somewhere. The bulldog was never found and the thief, or thieves were never caught.
The stolen bulldog was one of six red and pink sculptures on display on Santa Monica Boulevard between La Cienega Boulevard and Olive Drive in front of Barney’s Beanery. The sculptures went up just before LA Pride weekend in June 2013. It had a short run from June through August 2013.
The Cloned Bulldogs were meant to raise awareness about climate change. “If climate change continues the problems will just get worse. As an artist, I try to find solutions,” Sweetlove said in an artist statement. “Soon there will be too much sea water in the world but not enough drinking water, so I put boots on my dogs and give them water bottles and backpacks to give them some support.”
The missing bulldog made national and international headlines. According to then West Hollywood Cultural Affairs Administrator Andrew Campbell, “It disappeared sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning [June 9th/10th],” Campbell said he hoped the missing artwork was all part of a prank and that it would be returned to its platform on Santa Monica Boulevard. He declined to estimate the value of the statue because he didn’t want to encourage anybody to steal the other five, but a red sculpture of the same size from 2013 is currently selling for $25,985.94 ($28,259.71 after taxes) through 1st Dibs auctions (shipping is free).
Missing pink bulldog posters made their rounds on the web and the artist offered a frog statue worth $1,600 as a reward for the person who lead authorities to the bulldog.
The Santa Monica Boulevard installation marked the first time that Sweetlove’s work had been displayed on the West Coast. He planned to visit West Hollywood in September and bring 5,000 penguin statues with him, but that didn’t happen after one of his pieces went missing.
William Sweetlove was born in 1949 in Ostende, Belgium. Since 2001 he has been a member of the artists’ collective “The Cracking Art Group” in northern Italy.
As the physical medium that provides the basis for his works of art, he uses a type of plastic & polyester, produced via a thermo-chemical reaction in crude oil. This reaction, known as “cracking” is also the origin of the Cracking art Group’s name. He spreads a vision of the world suffused with elements of irony and ecological awareness. To those, Sweetlove adds the conviction that art must also be an antidote to over-consumption and overproduction. His paintings, sculptures and assemblages are his impressions of existence reproduced in materials such as polyester, animal hides and textiles. He creates friction between the artificial and the substantial, completely obliterating the boundaries between toy and work of art in certain of his works. This is a world in which poodles, giraffes and penguins are rendered into artifacts which unite Dadaism, surrealism and pop art in a common post-modernistic synthesis.
If you happen to see a pink bulldog with tennis shoes and water bottle backpack in your neighbor’s backyard, anonymous tips can be called into Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone or visit: https://www.lacrimestoppers.org.
Your identity is always encrypted and anonymous. No personal information, phone number, e-mail, IP address or location is ever requested, saved, traced, tracked or monitored. Period.
Crime Stoppers encourages members of the community to assist local law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime by overcoming the two key elements that inhibit community involvement: fear and apathy.
West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station polices the City of West Hollywood and the unincorporated communities of Franklin Canyon, Universal City (which includes Universal Theme Park, Studios, and Citywalk), and the Federal Enclave in West Los Angeles.
Who knows, you may still be able to collect a frog statue as a reward 9 years later.