Bill is in for "the Bean"
May 12, 2006 (WLS) -- The final bill is in for "the Bean." It comes just in time for Monday's dedication for the Millennium Park sculpture that has become one of Chicago's top tourist attractions.
Between the unveilings and re-veilings, it seems as though "the Bean" has been debuted and dedicated several times in the past two years. But Monday will be the official -- and we're promised -- last ceremony marking the opening of what is officially called "Cloud Gate." But whatever its name, it is almost two years late and four times over budget.
The three-story sculpture was supposed to be finished in July of 2004, when Millennium Park opened. Friday afternoon, it was still being touched up for Monday's grand dedication, as late as it is over-budget.
City and park officials are quick to point out that private contributions paid for "the Bean." One-hundred-fifteen donors gave at least a million dollars.
Here's "the Bean" counter:
- In 1999 the proposed cost was $6 million.
- By the time Millenniium Park opened the tab had almost doubled.
- A year ago it had almost tripled and a California engineering company went broke making just the framework.
- The 2006 final price tag: $23 million.
It may be Chicago's shining attraction, but Millennium Park officials say it never would have been build had they known how much it would eventually cost.
The over-budget sculpture sits prominent in an over-budget park that has become a symbol of City Hall largesse. On Monday, Mayor Daley will not attend "the Bean" dedication. Daley will be in China exploring a possible Chicago bid for the 2016 summer Olympic games.
Even though "the Bean" was privately paid for, comparing it's $23 million cost is stunning:
- It is more than the City of Chicago budget for women's and children's health care.
- It is twice the money the city spends on fire prevention.
- Four times the budget for low-income heating bill help.
- Eight times the amount the city spends on it's plan to end homelessness.
It is also interesting to compare "the Bean" to the Picasso, which used to be Chicago's most famous public sculpture. The Picasso cost a small fraction of "the Bean," and there is a distinct difference in the commission paid to the artists, Anish Kapoor who designed "the Bean" and Pablo Picasso who designed the Picasso. Kapoor was paid $700,000. Picasso did the work for free.
Late Friday afternoon, the ABC7 I-Team learned that Millennium Park is in trouble with the state of Illinois. For nearly a year, the non-profit fundraising arm of Millenium Park has been operating in violation of state laws that insist all charities register with the attorney general. The attorney general's office says that Millennium Park Inc. hasn't filed the required financial paperwork and state disclosures since 2003.
In a phone call a short time ago, the director of Millennium Park Inc. and its lawyer said they were unaware of such violations and seemed surprised that there would be a problem.
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