Big Gold Mall Statue of D-Day Dead
Rick Caruso, the developer of an upscale open-air California mall named Americana at Brand, wanted something classy to serve as its image. He chose the bronze statue, "The Spirit of American Youth Rising From The Waves," a muscle-bulging Adonis in a loin cloth who appears to be soaring through the air like Peter Pan.
The original of "Spirit of American Youth" stands in France at Normandy Cemetery, which holds close to 10,000 dead Americans. You don't need a degree in art to guess that it represents the naked souls of slain GIs, rising from the surf of Omaha Beach, after being killed by the Nazis.
Mr. Caruso, perhaps taking "shop 'til you drop" too literally, thought that this was a great image for his mall. He had a copy made, even bigger than the original. He then covered it in 23-carat gold and placed it in the middle of a fountain. Rather than overlook the Normandy beaches, this statue overlooks Urban Outfitters and a Cheesecake Factory.
The Spirit of American Youth Rising From The Waves was unveiled in 2008, the same year that two other upscale open-air malls debuted with their own eye-catching art: The Awakening at National Harbor in Maryland, and Presidents Park at WaterLights outside of Houston. Press material claims that Spirit of American Youth -- 18 feet -tall and 2,500 pounds -- is "probably the largest gilded statue in the country."
In fact Golden Boy in Texas is slightly larger, but the California statue will have an audience that's larger -- and more sale-savvy.