Artwork damaged or destroyed in the September 11 attacks

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The Sphere at Ground Zero, now exhibited at Liberty Park FEMA - 4049 - Photograph by Michael Rieger taken on 09-21-2001 in New York.jpg
The Sphere at Ground Zero, now exhibited at Liberty Park

An estimated $110 million of art was lost in the September 11 attacks: $100 million in private art [1] and $10 million in public art. [2]

September 11 attacks Attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001

The September 11 attacks were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,977 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people have died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.


In October, 2001 a spokesperson for insurance specialists AXA Art described the attacks as "the biggest single disaster ever to affect the [art] industry". [3]

The Port Authority held an estimated 100 pieces of art work at the World Trade Center Complex, in addition to the seven public works of art that had been created for the World Trade Center, all of which were destroyed or severely damaged. The offices of brokerage house Cantor Fitzgerald reportedly contained 300 Rodin sculptures.

Public art

An estimated $10 million worth of public art was lost due to the collapse of the World Trade Center. [2]

There were seven one-of-a-kind public works of art in the World Trade Center Complex at the time of the attacks:

Masayuki Nagare was a modernist Japanese sculptor, nicknamed "Samurai Artist" for his commitment to traditional Japanese aesthetics. He was born in 1923 in Nagasaki to Kojuro Nakagawa, the founder and president of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. As a teenager, he received training in the martial arts of a samurai, particularly swordsmanship, and lived in several temples in Kyoto, where he observed the patterns of rocks, plants, and water created by traditional landscape artists. In 1942, he enrolled at Ritsumeikan University, where he studied Shintoism and was apprenticed to a master swordsmith. He left university in 1943 to join the Imperial Japanese Navy and did not return to complete his studies. Nagare served as a Zero Fighter pilot in the Pacific War. After the War, he traveled all over Honshu Island until the mid-1950s, witnessing the desolation of the ruined countryside, developing a thorough understanding of the Japanese landscape, and becoming interested in local crafts such as pottery. His fascination with graveyard tombstones that had survived wartime bombing led to his longtime choice of stone as his preferred medium.

<i>The Sphere</i> Fritz Koenig sculpture damaged in September 11, 2001, terror attacks

The Sphere is a 25-foot (7.6 m) high, cast bronze sculpture by German artist Fritz Koenig. It is located in Liberty Park at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, New York City. Originally located at the Austin J. Tobin Plaza, the centerpiece survived the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, which resulted from the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Fritz Koenig German sculptor

Fritz Koenig was a German sculptor best known outside his native country for The Sphere, which once stood in the plaza beneath the two World Trade Center towers in Lower Manhattan. With its damage deliberately left unrepaired, the sculpture now stands in Manhattan's Liberty Park as a memorial to the victims of the 11 September 2001 attacks. His oeuvre includes other works, including other memorials.

Ideogram, The World Trade Center Tapestry, and Sky Gate, New York were never recovered from the rubble and are presumed destroyed.

Cloud Fortress survived the attack and collapse of the buildings, but was severely damaged and subsequently cleared by rescue workers in the days after the attacks.

Bent Propeller was partially recovered from the rubble. Only a small piece of the 1993 bombing memorial fountain was recovered.

The Sphere was damaged in the attacks, but was refurbished and put on display as a memorial.

In addition to the seven public art works, the Port Authority also had approximately 100 pieces of art on the complex, including:

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) is a joint venture between the U.S. states of New York and New Jersey, established in 1921 through an interstate compact authorized by the United States Congress. The Port Authority oversees much of the regional transportation infrastructure, including bridges, tunnels, airports, and seaports, within the geographical jurisdiction of the Port of New York and New Jersey. This 1,500-square-mile (3,900 km2) port district is generally encompassed within a 25-mile (40 km) radius of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The Port Authority is headquartered at 4 World Trade Center and is a member of the Real Estate Board of New York.

Private art collections

The World Trade Center alone held more than 430 tenants at the time of the attacks. [5] In addition to the decorative art that each office contained, some firms held large corporate art collections.

Three companies held major corporate art collections in the World Trade Center: Fred Alger, Cantor Fitzgerald, and Bank of America. Aside from these three, all other companies in the World trade center kept their artwork in other locations. [1]

Cantor Fitzgerald

In addition to losing the most lives in the attack, Cantor Fitzgerald lost the most artwork. Their offices on the 105th floor of the North Tower housed a gallery called the “Museum in the Sky” which held an estimated 300 casts of Rodin sculptures. [1]

Some of the Rodin works were recovered a quarter mile away from Ground Zero, including a bust from The Burghers of Calais , two of the three figures from The Three Shades, and a cast of The Thinker . After being recovered, The Thinker cast went missing, possibly due to theft. [6]


The collection of Citigroup, whose office was in World Trade Center Building 7, contained 1113 works of art which were all lost on September 11, 2001, according to Suzanne F. W. Lemakis who was the Citigroup Art Curator at the time of the attacks. [7]

The Citigroup collection at the World Trade Center consisted of about 75% prints, many of which were mass-produced and were replaceable. Also lost were English and American antique furniture, and Asian porcelains. [8]

According to Lemakis, the most expensive painting in Citigroup’s collection was a large mural depicting Wall Street, painted by an unknown designer. [8]

Fred Alger

Also located in the North Tower, this firm lost a collection of photographs by photographers including Cindy Sherman and Hiroshi Sugimoto. [1]

Bank of America

Bank of America’s office in the World Trade Center lost over 100 works of art by contemporary artists. [1]

J.P. Morgan Chase

At the time of the attack, the firm had only five lithographs in its Trade Center office, keeping most of its corporate art collection of over 17,000 works of art at its offices two blocks from the World Trade Center. [1] [6]

Art studios in the World Trade Center

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council had its offices in Building 5 of the World Trade Center, and two studios on the 91st and 92nd floors of The North Tower. The Council hosted an artist-in-residency program, called World Views, which hosted 15 artists from around the globe and was supposed to run from May–November 2001. The 15 artists worked in the studios in the North Tower. Nearly all of their artwork was lost in the attack on and subsequent collapse of the towers. At least one of the artists, Jamaican-born sculptor Michael Richards, also died in the attacks. Richards had worked through the night in the towers on an unfinished sculpture, a memorial piece dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen, which portrayed a pilot riding a burning meteor. [2] [9] [3]

The council also lost all of its archives that had been in their offices in Building 5. [9]

Government art collections

Twenty-four works from the art collections of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps were destroyed at The Pentagon by the attack.

Some works from The Pentagon's library were also damaged, but the majority were ultimately restored. [10]

Insurance payouts

Much of the art was not insured for its full value. [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

World Trade Center site Grounds of the World Trade Center in New York City

The World Trade Center site, formerly referred to as "Ground Zero" or "the Pile" immediately after the September 11 attacks, is a 14.6-acre (5.9 ha) area in Lower Manhattan in New York City. The site is bounded by Vesey Street to the north, the West Side Highway to the west, Liberty Street to the south, and Church Street to the east. The Port Authority owns the site's land. The previous World Trade Center complex stood on the site until it was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

Federal Art Project

The Federal Art Project (1935–43) was a New Deal program to fund the visual arts in the United States. Under national director Holger Cahill, it was one of five Federal Project Number One projects sponsored by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the largest of the New Deal art projects. It was created not as a cultural activity but as a relief measure to employ artists and artisans to create murals, easel paintings, sculpture, graphic art, posters, photography, theatre scenic design, and arts and crafts. The WPA Federal Art Project established more than 100 community art centers throughout the country, researched and documented American design, commissioned a significant body of public art without restriction to content or subject matter, and sustained some 10,000 artists and craft workers during the Great Depression.

Detroit Institute of Arts Art museum in Detroit, Michigan

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), located in Midtown Detroit, Michigan, has one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States. With over 100 galleries, it covers 658,000 square feet (61,100 m2) with a major renovation and expansion project completed in 2007 that added 58,000 square feet (5,400 m2). The DIA collection is regarded as among the top six museums in the United States with an encyclopedic collection which spans the globe from ancient Egyptian and European works to contemporary art. Its art collection is valued in billions of dollars, up to $8.1 billion according to a 2014 appraisal. The DIA campus is located in Detroit's Cultural Center Historic District, about two miles (3 km) north of the downtown area, across from the Detroit Public Library near Wayne State University.

<i>The Burghers of Calais</i> sculpture by Auguste Rodin

Les Bourgeois de Calais is a sculpture by Auguste Rodin, one of his best known, that exists in twelve original castings, and numerous copies. It commemorates an event during the Hundred Years' War, when Calais, a French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the English for about eleven months. Calais commissioned Rodin to create the sculpture in 1884 and the work was completed in 1889.

<i>The Hunt of the Unicorn</i> tapestry series of the late Middle Ages

The Hunt of the Unicorn, or the Unicorn Tapestries, is one of the most famous and spectacular but enigmatic survivors of the late Middle Ages. This series of seven tapestries now in The Cloisters in New York was possibly made – or at least designed – in Paris at the turn of the sixteenth century. They are one of the canonical works of late medieval/early Renaissance art and show a group of noblemen and hunters in pursuit of a unicorn through an idealised French landscape. The tapestries were woven in wool, metallic threads, and silk. The vibrant colours, still evident today, were produced from dye plants: weld (yellow), madder (red), and woad (blue).

Bernard Gerald Cantor was the founder and chairman of securities firm Cantor Fitzgerald.

Casualties of the September 11 attacks Wikimedia list article

During the September 11 attacks of 2001, 2,977 people were killed and more than 6,000 others were injured. The immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes, 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. The attacks were the deadliest terrorist act in world history, and the most devastating foreign attack on United States soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Art Loss Register (ALR) is the world's largest database of stolen art. A computerized international database that captures information about lost and stolen art, antiques, and collectables, the ALR is a London-based, independent, for profit corporate offspring of the New York-based, nonprofit International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR). The range of functions served by ALR has grown as the number of its listed items has increased. The database is used by collectors, the art trade, insurers, and law enforcement agencies worldwide. In 1991, IFAR helped create the Art Loss Register (ALR) as a commercial enterprise to expand and market the database. IFAR managed ALR's U.S. operations through 1997. In 1998 the ALR assumed full responsibility for the IFAR database although IFAR retains ownership. In 1992, the database comprised only 20,000 items, but it grew in size nearly tenfold during its first decade.

Suzanne Scheuer was an American fine artist best known for her New Deal-era murals.

<i>The World Trade Center Tapestry</i>

The World Trade Center Tapestry was a large tapestry by Joan Miró and Josep Royo. It was displayed in the lobby of 2 World Trade Center in New York City from 1974 until it was destroyed in 2001 by the collapse of the World Trade Center.

World Trade Center (1973–2001) Former skyscraper complex in Manhattan, New York

The original World Trade Center was a large complex of seven buildings in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. It opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. At the time of their completion, the Twin Towers — the original 1 World Trade Center, at 1,368 feet (417 m); and 2 World Trade Center, at 1,362 feet (415.1 m)—were the tallest buildings in the world. Other buildings in the complex included the Marriott World Trade Center, 4 WTC, 5 WTC, 6 WTC, and 7 WTC. The complex contained 13,400,000 square feet (1,240,000 m2) of office space.

The cultural influence of the September 11 attacks (9/11) has been profound and long-lasting. The impact of 9/11 has extended beyond geopolitics into society and culture in general. Immediate responses to 9/11 included greater focus on home life and time spent with family, higher church attendance, and increased expressions of patriotism such as the flying of American flags. The radio industry responded by removing certain songs from playlists, and the attacks have subsequently been used as background, narrative or thematic elements in film, television, music and literature. Already-running television shows as well as programs developed after 9/11 have reflected post-9/11 cultural concerns. 9/11 conspiracy theories have become social phenomena, despite lack of support from scientists, engineers, and historians. 9/11 has also had a major impact on the religious faith of many individuals; for some it strengthened, to find consolation to cope with the loss of loved ones and overcome their grief; others started to question their faith or lost it entirely, because they could not reconcile it with their view of religion.

<i>World Trade Center Plaza Sculpture</i>

The World Trade Center Plaza Sculpture, also called Cloud Fortress, was a sculpture created by Japanese artist Masayuki Nagare in 1972, located at the World Trade Center complex at the Church Street entrance to site's the primary internal 6-acre plaza.

Ideogram was a stainless steel sculpture in New York City by American sculpture James Rosati, completed in 1972. The work comprised a number of intersecting beams with reflective surfaces.

<i>Sky Gate, New York</i>

Sky Gate, New York was a sculpture by artist Louise Nevelson located in the mezzanine of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York from 1978 until its 2001 destruction in the collapse of the buildings during the September 11th attacks.

<i>ONE: Union of the Senses</i>

ONE: Union of the Senses is a mural by American artist José Parlá on display in the lobby of One World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City. Commissioned in 2014, the painting was completed and installed in 2015. Measuring 90 feet wide, the painting is believed to be the largest painting in New York City.


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  2. 1 2 3 "Lost Art Hundreds of Works Were Destroyed in the Trade Center Attack". National Public Radio. 16 October 2001. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  3. 1 2 "'Up to' $100m art lost in attacks". BBC. 5 October 2001. Archived from the original on 2017-11-22. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  4. Wenegrat, Saul (28 February 2002). "Public Art at the World Trade Center". International Foundation for Art Research. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  5. "List of World Trade Center tenants". CNN. Archived from the original on 2017-10-02. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  6. 1 2 Barry, Dan; Rashbaum, William K. (20 May 2002). "Born of Hell, Lost After Inferno; Rodin Work From Trade Center Survived, and Vanished". New York Times. New York City. Archived from the original on 2017-12-04. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  7. Lemakis, Suzanne F.W. (28 February 2002). "The Art Lost by Citigroup on 9/11". International Foundation for Art Research. Archived from the original on 2016-09-17. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  8. 1 2 Lemakis, Suzanne F.W. (28 February 2002). "The Art Lost by Citigroup on 9/11". International Foundation for Art Research. Archived from the original on 2013-06-30. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  9. 1 2 Cotter, Holland (3 December 2001). "ART REVIEW; The Studios Were Lost, But the Artists Get Their Day". New York Times. New York City. Archived from the original on 2018-01-28. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  10. Bridge, Sarah; Kazi, Stastna (21 August 2011). "9/11 anniversary: What was lost in the damage". CBC. Archived from the original on 2018-01-19. Retrieved 28 January 2018.