Bronze Hercules statue needs permanent home

- A 28-foot tall bronze statue of Hercules pulling together the pillars of the world will be hard to miss when it is installed in front of an Ulmerton Road jewelry store.    

The piece is called "Union of the World" by Spanish artist Gines Serran, who received the keys to the city of Miami when the statue was installed there in 2010. 

Last month, Hercules became homeless. 

"There was an investor who had agreed to pay for the piece to be kept in Miami," Gold and Diamond Source vice president Julie Weintraub explained. "Her business didn't go the way she had planned and she wasn't able to fulfill her obligation to the piece." 

Serran took the more-than-16,000-pound statue back and agreed to let the Weintraubs try to find a new home for Hercules in the Tampa Bay area. 

"The value now, on paper, is probably between $3- and $4-million. He's willing to give it to us for $2-million, so we're trying to figure out how to work that out," Weintraub said. 

Weintraub said she ran across images of the statue several years ago and established a relationship with the artist through Facebook. 

Her vision: Serran's statement for world piece becomes part of Tampa Bay's arts fabric. 

"I'm hoping for the opening to the [St. Petersburg] Pier, but if it has to be at Tampa International Airport, or somewhere in the Tampa Bay community, I don't mind where it is, I'm just really hoping to keep it here in our area," she said, after admitting, "I deal in diamonds, not arts. I have no idea what I'm doing, so I don't pretend to know." 

She has already learned wrangling an eight-ton statue requires flatbed trucks, cranes and welders.

A giant concrete landing pad in front of her store is considered temporary. Weintraub has already discovered, even if the money was raised from one or many donors, putting the statue on public property will require political buy-in. 

"If somebody wanted to purchase it and donate it to the city, we would form a gifts committee," the city of St. Petersburg's Wayne Atherholt explained. "The gifts committee would discuss it and decide whether to accept it or not and then it would go to City Council." 

Even a temporary installation on city property would require approval of an arts advisory committee. Lacking the time to initiate those processes, the statue was delivered to Weintraub last week. 

An installation planned for this week was delayed because of Valentine's Day demands on the jewelry store. 

Weintraub would like the community to raise the money to buy the statue and have it installed in some very public space. For now, the statue can be sees outside the Gold and Diamond Source store on Ulmerton after it's installed next week.

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