TAMPA — With only a moving crew as witnesses, an 1,800 pound bronze bust of Native American Princess Ulele was hoisted up and hauled away before dawn Tuesday under orders from the city of Tampa.
The sculpture was installed in December on city property at the north end of the Tampa Riverwalk by Richard Gonzmart, owner of the adjacent restaurant named for the princess.
No one but media was walking the popular pathway along the Hillsborough River as a crew of some half-dozen workers worked quickly to attach belts, lift the bust by crane, load it onto the back of a trailer and drive it away by truck. The work was finished before 7 a.m.
The city said Gonzmart installed the 8-by-8-by-6-foot bust atop a three-foot steel base without permission on land he had not leased from the city in his deal to build Ulele restaurant. Gonzmart and his Columbia Restaurant Group say use of the lawn outside Ulele were always included in the deal.
Gonzmart said last week the bust, commissioned by the restaurant owner from sculptor Vala Ola of Cave Creek, Ariz., will be stored in a warehouse for now.