Sculptor Wages Long Twilight Struggle to Restore His Bust of JFK





BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- John F. Kennedy was assassinated 45 years ago -- the anniversary is Nov. 22, Saturday. And now that the country has a new first family evoking something of the Kennedy mystique, Neil Estern has been thinking it's high time his sculpture of JFK is put back where it belongs.

It belongs in Grand Army Plaza, a traffic maelstrom in the heart of Brooklyn. The plaza's arch marks the Union's triumph in the Civil War. Set around it are statues of such notables as...Alexander Skene, a Scottish gynecologist and Brooklyn immigrant who had an infection (skenitis) named after him.

Facing the vehicular onslaught from Flatbush Avenue at the plaza's northern tip stands a perplexing object: a 7-foot-tall, gray-granite plinth. It has no inscription. "We just call it the monument," said Jonathan Tuczynski, who was doing maintenance work in the plaza one day. "I've been wondering: What's it for?"

Mr. Estern, who is 82 years old, knows only too well: The plinth is intended for a larger-than-life bust of President Kennedy that he delivered to New York City not quite two years after the 1963 assassination. The bust actually stood in the plaza from May 31, 1965 [when unveiled by Robert F. Kennedy], until Oct. 6, 2003, when it was transported in the midst of a construction project to points publicly unknown.

"People keep asking me, 'What happened to the bust? It was taken away and it disappeared,' " Mr. Estern says. "I try to explain that it's a very complicated process."...

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