Wall Street Bull Gored by Rocket

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- While economic crises killed its share of bull markets, the bull itself usually escaped unscathed. Not this time.

A rocket may seem like too big of a weapon for a job that required only a toreador, a cape and a dagger, but a pair of artists in New York are hoping it kills the bull and replaces it as the symbol of soaring economies -- and that businessmen will buy desktop versions for $495 a pop. Mark and Diane Weisbeck's "Bull Market Rocket," a 13-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture of a blue-and-gold-leaf rocket atop billowing smoke, won a contest commissioned by an undisclosed Credit Suisse ( CS) executive and conducted by New York collective KiptonART that sought to replace the 18th century bull and bear market mascots.

Rocket
Mark and Diane Weisbeck's "Bull Market Rocket," a 13-foot stainless-steel sculpture of a blue-and-gold-leaf rocket emitting jet exhaust.

Those circumstances seemed fitting, as KiptonART founder and patron Kipton Cronkite's former employer, Bank of America ( BAC), euthanized Merrill Lynch's bull logo when it acquired the ailing investment broker last year. It eventually allowed Merrill Lynch execs to put the logo on the back of their cards earlier this month. While stripped of subtlety, the rocket and its etymology are at least clearer than that of its feral forebears, whose murky origins are often traced to both speculative London bearskin traders and old bull-and-bear-fighting blood sport.

"Nobody knows the meaning of them anymore," Diane Weisbeck says. "We felt Wall Street was being reborn, so the image should be reborn as well."

As gored bullfighters and beat-up rodeo riders can attest, however, a bull isn't broken so easily. At last glance, Arturo di Modica's Charging Bull statue was still in its rightful place at the foot of Broadway near Wall Street and the Bowling Green subway stop. The Bull Market Rocket is not yet on public display. The rocket's 14-inch replica sells on bullmarketgifts.com for nearly $500. A four-inch-tall Charging Bull replica goes for $31 on the same site. (Even less costly is the Jim Cramer Mad Money Red Squeezie Bull for $6 at the NBC Store.) Perhaps most tellingly, the bull still has its marketplace namesake to itself, as the rocket needs "bull market" in its title just to let people know what it's supposed to symbolize.

Can a sculpture that won a contest looking for 21st century imagery by replicating an early-20th century V2 rocket ever truly supplant the stubborn bull? The Weisbecks say they're already excited by the attention their rising rocket has received.

"The reason we call it a bull market is because it is uptrending, but how is a bull uptrending?" Diane Weisbeck says. "There's nothing more uptrending than a blasting-off rocket, and this concept has taken off all over the world."

-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.

Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, The Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.

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