11 Monuments That Were Removed In Disgrace


Nobody ever thinks that when they put up a monument to someone that they’ll have to take it down later because the memorialized disgraced themselves. But there are many examples of paintings, monuments and statues that were removed after a person’s shame came to light.

Sometimes it was for a little tax evasion, like former Vice-President Spiro Agnew. Other times it was a dictator being removed from the history books, like Lenin or Stalin. And a few times, like in the recent case of Bill Cosby’s statue being removed from Walt Disney World, it’s because of horrific sex crimes making them an international symbol of ridicule and disgust. Perhaps the most prolific of these was British DJ and philanthropist Jimmy Savile, who had dozens of monuments and memorials destroyed or defaced after his crimes of pedophila were confirmed by British authorities.

Here are 11 disgraced statues, monuments, paintings and memorials that were taken down or otherwise altered because of disgraceful actions by their subjects. Some were destroyed, others simply changed, and a few are still locked away somewhere, ready to be put back up when the public is more forgiving.

Bill Cosby

After news broke that Cosby admitted in a court deposition to obtaining drugs with which to rape women, Walt Disney World responded to a circulating petition and removed a bust of the comic from their Hollywood Studios theme park. In April 2018, Cosby was found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Saddam Hussein

The giant statue of the dictator in central Baghdad’s Firdaus Square was toppled by a US Marine crane on April 9, 2003, shortly after the Iraqi capital was secured by American forces. The statue was then set upon by Iraqi citizens, who decapitated it and paraded the head around the streets of Baghdad.

Joe Paterno

In the aftermath of the Penn State sex abuse scandal, a 7 foot tall  bronze statue of their legendary head coach that had been put up in 2001 was taken down by the university. The statue is currently stored “in a secure location” and despite numerous calls to put it back up, no decision has been reached on what to do with it.

Vladimir Lenin

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Communist iconography was pulled down all over the former Eastern Bloc – especially images and monuments of Vladimir Lenin. In 2014, Ukrainian rebels destroyed dozens of statues of Lenin, in response to the Russian incursion into eastern Ukraine.

Jimmy Savile

Legendary British DJ and TV personality Jimmy Savile was found, after his death, to be a predatory sex offender with hundreds of victims. Almost immediately, the beloved British icon had statues and memorials taken down around the country, with almost any public commemoration either defaced or taken away. His large, elaborate headstone was also removed and destroyed.

Joseph Stalin

After the Soviet dictator’s death in 1953, successor Nikita Khrushchev launched a period of “de-Stalinization” to recover from his tyranny. As part of this, numerous cities and landmarks named after Stalin had their names changed, the most famous of which was the renaming of World War II battleground Stalingrad to Volgograd. Mention of Stalin was also purged from the Soviet National Anthem, and several large statues of the dictator were pulled down and destroyed.

Spiro Agnew

Former Maryland governor Spiro Agnew had his official portrait taken out of the Maryland State House several years after his resignation as Vice-President due to tax evasion charges in 1973. The painting was restored in the mid-1990s after complaints that removing was akin to “Stalinist Russia.”

Benedict Arnold

The Continental General turned traitor is still mentioned in several standing memorials, most notably at the Saratoga National Historical Park and the United States Military Academy. But until recently, none bore his name or likeness, only his rank and year of birth. Saratoga did add a plaque commemorating Arnold’s death, put up in 2001.

Cecil Rhodes

Students at the University of Cape Town demanded the removal of a 1930s statue of British colonial minister Cecil Rhodes, for whom the white settlement of Rhodesia was named, and whom many students believed to be an inveterate racist. After weeks of protests, the University pulled the statue down. In response, white Afrikaners chained themselves to another statue, that of Dutch Boer War-era leader Paul Kruger.

Gary Glitter

The disgraced pedophile singer of “Rock and Roll Pt. 2” had a commemorative brick in the Wall of Fame at Liverpool’s Cavern Club removed in 2008 and replaced with a plaque proclaiming that a performer’s brick was once there. The club’s owner initially didn’t want to remove the brick and re-write history, but he was forced to by public pressure.

Michael Jackson

In 2011, the King of Pop inexplicably had a memorial statue raised at Craven Cottage, the stadium where English soccer team Fulham plays. The 7 foot tall plaster and resin monument was put up by the club’s owner, Mohamed Al-Fayed, who had it made for the famed department store Harrods.

When they didn’t want it, Al-Fayed put it up outside Craven Cottage, much to the dismay of fans who weren’t buying Al-Fayed’s explanation that it was to commemorate Jackson’s attendance at a Fulham match in 1999. Fans thought it was kitschy and embarrassing. After Al-Fayed sold the team, the statue was removed – though Fulham were relegated from the top tier of English football the next year.


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