Having a statue erected in your likeness sounds like it would be an honor. But when the end result leaves you looking disfigured, soulless, or otherwise terrifying for all eternity, it's worth considering that sometimes it's not the thought that counts.
1. Lucille Ball, Celoron, N.Y.
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This statue in the beloved comedian's hometown has been a source of rancor since it was first erected in 2009. "Scary Lucy," as she quickly became known, even inspired an online campaign "We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue." As it turns out, everyone thinks the statue is an abomination—even the man responsible. Earlier this year, artist Dave Poulin issued a public apology saying, "I take full responsibility for 'Scary Lucy,' though by no means was that my intent or did I wish to disparage in any way the memories of the iconic Lucy image."
His public admission that the statue really is awful seems to have paid off. Recently, the forth-coming National Comedy Center in nearby Jamestown, N.Y. has offered to adopt the unloved Lucy and give it new life.
2. Kurt Cobain in Aberdeen, Wash.
— INDIE88 (@Indie88Toronto) February 22, 2014
Kurt Cobain's hometown of Aberdeen, WA recently declared the Nirvana frontman's February 20th birthday "Kurt Cobain Day." As part of the festivities, the town unveiled this somber statue of the singer, which notably features a single tear. Artist Randi Hubbard began work on the sculpture shortly after Cobain's death in 1994. Sometime in the past two decades, she'd offered the work to the city who, at the time, refused. Their conviction has since wavered.
3. Arthur Ashe in Richmond, Va.
In 1996, Ashe's hometown of Richmond erected a statue in his likeness on Monument Avenue despite controversy that the tennis great didn't belong amid the existing congregation of Confederate icons. But the bronze memorial, cast by Paul di Pasquale, is bizarre for more than just its location. In an attempt to capture Ashe's dedication to social activism, he is shown holding books and a tennis racket high above the outstretched arms of a gaggle of children, frozen forever in a state of seemingly mocking them for their lack of height.
4. James Dean Bust in Los Angeles, Calif.
James Dean himself commissioned the bust that stands as his memorial at the site of several key scenes from Rebel Without a Cause. But perhaps because artist Kenneth Kendall began work the night Dean died, the actor wound up looking not just tragic but down-trodden. In 1988—33 years after Dean's death—Kendall donated the sculpture to Griffith Observatory.
5. Walter Johnson in Washington D.C.
Flickr user Wally Gobetz
"It just doesn't work," Walter Johnson's grandson and biographer Henry Thomas said of the attempt to show motion in his grandfather's statue. The multi-armed likeness of the late Hall of Fame pitcher, the work of sculptor Omri Amrany, was erected outside Nationals Park in 2009.
6. A Conversation With Oscar Wilde in London, England
In a sculpture by Maggi Hambling, the bust of the brilliant Irish author rises out of a sarcophagus-esque block. As if that wasn't creepy enough, his mangled bronze features actually look like something that has risen from the dead.
7. St. Bartholomew in Milan, Italy
Image credit: Colin McBride
The oldest statue on this list was cast by Marco d'Agrate in 1562 to honor the only saint to have been skinned alive. And if you're an artist, how could you pass up a graphic opportunity like that? The statue of St. Bartholomew presiding over the Milan Cathedral is not only skinless, he is literally carrying his own skin, identifiable by the face and feet on either end.
8. Franz Kafka in Prague, Czech Republic
Flickr user Mike Lee
In the Jewish Quarter of Prague where Franz Kafka spent most of his life, a sculpture by Jaroslav Rona stands as a memorial to the influential author. Or to giant, headless, handless, well-dressed men everywhere. A miniature Kafka sits perched on the shoulders of an ominous empty suit that looks to be lumbering towards you.
9. Saint Wenceslas Riding a Dead Horse in Prague, Czech Republic
Flickr user Tobin
In Wenceslas Square, a statue of the eponymous patron saint of Bohemia is shown, in typical form, atop a gallant steed. Inside Lucerna Palace mere yards from the original, a parody of this statue by David Cerny also depicts Saint Wenceslas and a horse. Only this time the horse is upside down and dead. If the juxtaposition doesn't freak you out, the lolling horse tongue is sure to.
10. Michael Jackson, formerly in London, England
Flickr user Abi Skipp
This slightly smirking colorful rendition of the late King of Pop was actually deemed too creepy (and controversial) and was removed last year. The former owner and chairman of the Fulham football team, Mohamed Fayed, commissioned the statue, which stood outside the Craven Cottage stadium from 2011 through late 2013 when new owner, American businessman Shahid Khan, heeded the public opinion and had the statue removed and returned to Fayed.