(From The Guardian) A cast-bronze monument for the victims of the sinking of a steam ferry recently appeared in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, near other somber memorials to soldiers, sailors and mariners lost at sea or on the battlefield.
There was, however, no such ferry disaster. The artist behind the memorial, Joseph Reginella, made the whole thing up.
The 250lb monument, which depicts a Staten Island ferry, the Cornelius G Kolff, being dragged under the waves by a giant octopus, is part of a multi-layered hoax that includes a sophisticated website, a documentary, fabricated newspaper articles and glossy fliers directing tourists to a phantom Staten Island Ferry Disaster Memorial Museum, across the harbor.
The project took six months to build. Reginella said the idea came to him while he was taking his 11-year-old nephew from Florida on the ferry between Manhattan and Staten Island.
“He was asking me all kinds of crazy questions, like if the waters were shark-infested,” he said. “I said ‘No, but you know what did happen in the 60s? One of these boats got pulled down by a giant octopus.”
“The story just rolled off the top of my head,” he said, and it evolved to become “a multimedia art project and social experience – not maliciously – about how gullible people are”.