The artist who created an 800-pound steel sculpture of a bent, burnt heroin spoon that was placed in front of the Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford can get his sculpture back, a judge has ruled.
Boston-based artist Domenic Esposito attended a hearing in Superior Court in Stamford on Monday for gallery owner Fernando Luis Alvarez, who was charged in connection with the incident. Esposito has said he was inspired to create the artwork by his brother’s drug addiction. Esposito said his brother started with OxyContin and Percocet and then moved to heroin.
Judge Richard Comerford delayed a decision on whether to approve a special form of probation for Alvarez. But the judge did sign an order returning the spoon to Esposito. The men can retrieve the sculpture from the Stamford police, although the process could take days, the judge said.
Alvarez was charged with obstruction of free passage for his act of “guerrilla art,” and for interfering with police in front of the 201 Tresser Blvd. corporate headquarters for Purdue Pharma when he and Esposito placed the sculpture named “Purdue” in an automotive drop-off spot, making the path unusable.
Alvarez said the sculpture and its placement are a statement intended to create a groundswell of outrage against Purdue and the billionaire Sackler family, who are majority owners of the company that developed OxyContin.
“I have been extremely bothered and moved by the architects of this epidemic,” Alvarez said at the time. ““I want to hold this family responsible and put in front of society the modern-day massacre they and others have created.”
Purdue Pharma has come under increased scrutiny in recent years for its perceived role in the opioid epidemic, which leads to tens of thousands of deaths nationwide each year.
Those standing against the company have said that one of their flagship drugs, the opioid Oxycontin, helped fuel this epidemic, hooking people who eventually turned to more dangerous highs, including heroin and fentanyl, when prescriptions ran out.
In a statement released after the spoon was dropped outside its corporate office, Purdue did not condemn the protest.
“We share the protesters’ concern about the opioid crisis, and respect their right to peacefully express themselves. Purdue is committed to working collaboratively with those affected by this public health crisis on meaningful solutions to help stem the tide of opioid-related overdose deaths,” the company said.