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Money woes split Utah backers of the Statue of Responsibility

Published April 26, 2013 11:05 am

Split • Sculptor, foundation president duel over rights to 300-foot statue project.
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The belief that freedom cannot exist without responsibility — and the desire to build a 300-foot statue to enshrine that idea — brought them together.

But money woes have split the backers of a Statue of Responsibility, who are feuding over the rights to the proposed companion for the Statue of Liberty on America's West Coast.

Daniel Bolz, president and CEO of the Statue of Responsibility Foundation, says sculptor Gary Lee Price defected and is illegally using the name to promote his design. But an attorney representing Price retorts Bolz has let the project languish unfunded for years and should step aside.

Both sides say they are moving forward with their version.

Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, once connected with the project, said he "love[s] the concept" but has backed away.

"Suddenly they're working at cross-purposes, and everything looks like a mess," said Shurtleff, now in private practice. "There's no way I'm going to put my own money ... into an organization that's so fractured."

'Stop hanging onto us' • Price unveiled his 15-foot prototype — a towering pair of two clasped hands — at Utah Valley University last month. He said an as-yet-undisclosed location in California is ready to give his statue a home.

"It's a great national project, and [Bolz has] had it for a dozen years, and he's done nothing with it," said Price's lawyer, Randy Kester, of Provo. "If he wants to go do his own thing, we don't care. We're just not connected with him anymore, and we'd like him to stop hanging onto us."

Kester contends Bolz is illegally using depictions of Price's design on the foundation's website and elsewhere. The copyright names the foundation as its claimant but Price as the author, and ownership would typically fall to him since he was not a full-time employee.

Leesa Clark-Price said in a statement that she, her husband and others questioned Bolz's decisions.

"We ... could no longer support Daniel Bolz in that role, nor could ... the team [we] were working with," it said.

The concept for the statue comes from the late Austrian author and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl. Price became involved in 1997 and helped bring Bolz on board in 2002. Bolz created the nonprofit that year.

'They're running around unbridled' • While Price ended his contract in February, his design belongs to the foundation, Bolz insists. A servicemark — similar to a trademark — on the statue's name is registered to the foundation, and he plans to enforce it in court.

"Right now, they're running around unbridled," Bolz said of the Prices and their supporters. "They think they're in charge and there is no legality to what they're doing. We own the name Statue of Responsibility."

Bolz said he plans to choose a new sculptor by summer following an international search.

He provided an accounting, dated this month, showing the foundation has "extremely limited cash funds," but said he has secured $1.1 million worth of donated services from 35 Utah companies. Price's design is estimated to cost $300 million.

Bolz blamed the former vice president of development, David Barlow, for the lackluster fundraising, adding that replacing him in the unpaid position is a challenge. He said the foundation helped Barlow make a video and "provided him with more tools that he asked for."

But Barlow, a Utah County-based motivational speaker, said he discovered serious "question marks" shortly after he became involved in 2010.

"The whole time there was not a single board meeting," he said. Uncomfortable soliciting donations, Barlow said, "I just took my foot off the gas."

Bolz said he has a new board of 11 trustees, including treasurer Terry Judd, a Provo architect and friend.

"Daniel's had kind of the leadership role in this for a long time, and he has seen the vision of what this is trying to become," he said. "Legally, ethically ... there was really no choice."

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst