Capitoline Wolf Statue Replica Unveiled in Eden Park After 2022 Heist

Ninety years after the statue first gazed upon the Cincinnati park, her replacement stands where the original was stolen in June 2022.

Nov 3, 2023 at 3:30 pm
click to enlarge The newly rectified Capitoline Wolf Statue was unveiled in Eden Park on Nov. 3, 2023. The original statue, gifted to Cincinnati by Rome in 1931, was stolen in June of 2022. - Photo: Madeline Fening
Photo: Madeline Fening
The newly rectified Capitoline Wolf Statue was unveiled in Eden Park on Nov. 3, 2023. The original statue, gifted to Cincinnati by Rome in 1931, was stolen in June of 2022.
While there's still a she-wolf in someone's closet, a replica of the Capitoline Wolf Statue has returned to Eden Park after the original was stolen in 2022.

Cincinnati Parks officials held an unveiling of the new statue on Nov. 3 with the Cincinnati chapter of the Order Sons & Daughters of Italy in America (OSIA).

Alberto Salierno, an OSIA member, told CityBeat the timing of the wolf's return is special.

"It's Amazing. It really warms our hearts," Salierno said. "This is the 100th anniversary of the OSIA, 2023, and it's the 90th anniversary of the Capitoline Wolf – what we refer to as the 'Lupa' – it's that 90th anniversary in Cincinnati. What are the odds?"

The statue

The statue, intended to honor Roman statesman, farmer and namesake of our dear city,
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, depicts suckling twin infants Romulus and Remus, whose story relates to the founding of Rome.

So how did the statue get here? Benito Mussolini sent it over for a Sons of Italy convention in 1929… sort of. Rome gave Cincinnati an exact replica of one found in Rome’s Musei Capitolini, but it was switched out for a larger one in 1931, and that is the one that stood in Eden Park for nearly a century. It is inscribed with Il Governatore di Roma alla Citta di Cincinnati 1931 Anno X — "from the governor of Rome to the city of Cincinnati in 1931 (year 10 of Mussolini’s reign)" — and until June 2022, it sat at Eden Park's Twin Lakes.

The heist

According to an incident report from the Cincinnati Police Department, the statue was taken around 8 p.m. on June 16, 2022. Police said vandals cut it from the paws and took it, potentially for scrap metal, leaving just Romulus and Remus and the mother wolf's paws.

The heist inspired City Council member Jeff Cramerding to motion that the city offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the statue. In the motion, Cramerding wrote, "This was a crime against art, a crime against parks and a crime against all the citizens of Cincinnati."

Police still have not tracked down the statue or its captors.

Her return home

Just two months after the statue was stolen, OSIA secured the funds for a Capitoline Wolf Statue replacement. Speakers during Friday's unveiling said half of the $60,000 raised to fund the statue's replacement was donated by Driscoll's, the California-based berry purveyor.

According to Cincinnati Parks, OSIA worked with officials in Rome to develop a plan to recreate the historic piece of art, sending the remaining base of the statue to Italy where Italian artists used the paw to replicate the scale of the original statue. The paw was then melted down and added to the new bronze mixture.

The new statue also includes "security enhancements" and signage recognizing the civic effort to replace the beloved statue.
click to enlarge Alberto Salierno, an OSIA member (left) during the Capitoline Wolf Statue rededication on Nov. 3, 2023. - Photo: Madeline Fening
Photo: Madeline Fening
Alberto Salierno, an OSIA member (left) during the Capitoline Wolf Statue rededication on Nov. 3, 2023.

That's amore

The unveiling of the new statue was a decidedly Italian event. Dean Martin, Perry Como and Domenico Modugno crooned Italian songs over loudspeakers while attendees adorned in Italian flags and OSIA sashes grazed on pizzelles, biscotti and Italian wedding cookies.

Salierno said Cincinnati's Italian-American heritage is felt everywhere in the city.

"We've been a mainstay of the Cincinnati region for years and years and years," he said. "From founding Findlay Market to the Cincinnati Reds, we're here to stay."


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