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The photographer confirms that people have removed the mysterious monolith in Utah American news

A mysterious monolith that puzzled officials and adventurers when it appeared and then quickly disappeared into the remote Utah desert has been removed by four men – not aliens, as many in the world might have hoped.

A group of friends who photographed the monolith filmed the removal last Friday night, then shared the images on Instagram.

As the men left with the pieces, one of them said, “Leave no trace,” Ross Bernards told the New York Times.

The monolith was discovered in Utah late last month, prompting theories of origin ranging from fine art to remnants of television or film, even to aliens.

Brett Hutchings, a Utah public safety helicopter pilot who discovered the monolith while conducting a sheep census, declined to reveal its location.

“One of the biologists noticed it and we just flew directly over its top,” Hutchings told local media, estimating the monolith at a height of between 10 feet and 12 feet. “He was like, ‘Wow, wow, wow, turn around, turn around!’ And I was like, “What.” And he’s like, “This thing’s in the back – we need to look at it!”

The thrill seekers agreed, and days later, visitors discovered it, just east of Canyonlands National Park. Amid growing international attention, a copy monolith has been reported in the hills of Romania.

The origin of the object remains unknown. A spokesman for the gallery owner, David Zwirner, told the Guardian that this was not the work of the late artist John McCracken. A spokesman later told the New York Times that he may be from McCracken, but confusion remains.

Nick Utah, a public safety spokesman in Utah, said the monolith was built into the rock. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said the monolith was “considered private property” and would not investigate, as such issues are “processed by the local sheriff’s office”.

The San Juan County Sheriff declined to investigate, jokingly posting a “Most Wanted” poster with suspects replaced by aliens on his website. The sheriff’s office then overturned its decision and announced an investigation with BLM.

The man, a friend of Bernards, who filmed removing the monolith, may not have been the people who installed it.

Bernards said he was visiting the monolith with a friend shortly before 9pm on Friday when he heard the men were arriving.

“You better take your pictures,” said one of the men before pushing the monolith in an attempt to eradicate it. The sculpture fell, emitting loud thunder, and the men broke it before leaving with the pieces in a cart.

Bernard suggested that the men saw the monolith, which turned out to be hollow with plywood, “like a backpack, a polluter of the landscape.”

“That’s why you don’t leave garbage in the desert,” said one of the men.

On Instagram, Bernards said he and his friend did not try to stop the men from removing the monolith because “they were right to take it out.”

Reiterating Utah authorities concerned about the environmental impact of so many visitors to such a remote location, Bernards described seeing “at least 70 different cars (and planes) looking for the monolith.”

“Cars park everywhere in the delicate desert landscape,” he wrote. “No one follows a path or another. We can literally see people trying to approach from any direction to try to reach it, permanently changing the untouched landscape.

“Mother Nature is an artist, it’s best to leave art in the wild.”

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