City officials Monday threatened to put the Statue of Liberty on the auction block unless they collect more than $940,000 in water bills incurred by the monument.
“We really do not want to sell the Statue of Liberty,” Mayor Anthony Cucci said. “What we do want is the almost a million dollars. I’m going after it.”
The three-year bill was due Dec. 31 from the U.S. Department of the Interior, city tax collector Tim Rausch said. He said state law requires him to place all property with delinquent payments up for tax sale.
Interior Department spokesman George Berklacy said the issue is who is responsible for a broken water line that drove up the water bill, and that no entity has the right to foreclose on federal property.
“We’d like to find the guy who buys the statue and see if we could sell him the Brooklyn Bridge,” Berklacy said.
Hopes to Settle
Cucci’s spokesman, Nat Berg, said City Atty. Thomas Fodice hopes to settle the matter with Interior Department officials.
But city officials said that if the bill remains unpaid, they will place a lien against the statue and Liberty Island and put them up for auction.
“God, it would be the greatest auction to see,” Cucci said. “But I don’t want to sell the lady. It might get into the wrong hands.”
“They’ve been using our water for years,” he said. “If they don’t pay, he (Rausch) is forced to sell it.”
The statue is the subject in another dispute between the states of New York and New Jersey over which has jurisdiction. The statue, which sits in New York Harbor between the two states, has a Jersey City address, but New York collects tax from the sales of souvenirs and other material.