SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A gleaming monolith found deep in the Utah desert was a stunning, mysterious lighthouse that immediately caught the attention of a world battling a punishing pandemic throwing a palm tree during the holiday season.
Revealed to the public shortly before Thanksgiving, it drew hundreds of people to the remote side of the Red Rocks to see and touch the afterlife, sparking both science fiction and the state’s famous works.
But the newcomers also flattened the plants with their cars and left behind human waste in the country without a bathroom. Now two men, known for extreme sports in the vast outdoor landscapes of Utah, say it was such damage that caused them to come in late at night and knock him down.
Sylvan Christensen and Andy Lewis have great online followers for their BASE skydiving and league jumping posts, which is like walking on a rope outdoors. In videos posted on Instagram and YouTube, they said they were part of a group that pushed the hollow stainless steel structure and carried it away with a cart.
Christensen said in a statement to the media late Tuesday that the land was not prepared for the influx and its federal managers could not hope to cope.
“The mystery was love, and we want to use that time to unite the people behind the real problems here ̵
He said the group supported art and artists, but said it was an “ethical failure” to cut the rock to raise the monolith, and that the damage caused by the “internet sensation” was worse.
The group’s action left many frustrated people traveling long distances to see the gleaming silver structure, only to find the space empty, except for a triangular sheet of metal above a hole in the ground.
But the removal may not have broken the law. San Juan County Sheriff Jason Torgerson said Wednesday that he could not be investigated as a stolen property case because no one had stepped forward to claim the structure as his own. The original creator remains a mystery.
“The monolith has been abandoned to the public,” Torgerson said in an email to the Associated Press. As it was originally placed there without permission, the original installation is also under investigation, he said.
A similar structure, which appeared in Romania last week, also later disappeared.