boy hugging sculpture

Kansas City Star

This 5-year-old ‘hugged’ a glass sculpture—now his parents owe $132K



Stacey Ritzen

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 17, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 1:21 pm CDT

Parenthood is filled with all kinds of expenses—both expected and unexpected. As it turns out, children need food and clothes and all kinds of stuff. And sometimes, if you’re especially unlucky, they break expensive artwork and you’re left holding the bill.

That’s precisely what happened to a couple from Kansas, whose 5-year-old son broke a sculpture—titled “Aphrodite Di Kansas City,” made of glass and pieces of mirror—by “hugging” it. Now his parents are being asked to pay the estimated $132,000 that the piece is worth. The family was attending a wedding at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park when the boy—who was unattended at the moment—wrapped his arms around the piece and caused it to fall to the ground, breaking it.

Sarah Goodman, the boy’s mother, told the Kansas City Star that it was clear the incident was an “accident,” but unfortunately that doesn’t un-break the sculpture.

“He probably hugged it,” she told the publication. “Maybe my son hugged a torso because he’s a loving, sweet nice boy who just graduated from preschool.”

Goodman claims that she and her husband were “just standing down the hallway following the bride and groom out” when the incident occurred and that all four of her children were well-supervised and behaved during the event. In the above CCTV video, however, you can see that it took more than 10 seconds for the statue to fall after he first put his arms around it, and neither the parents—nor the adults sitting nearby—seemed to notice.

The city was obligated to contact its insurance company, Travelers, which promptly sent the family a letter demanding payment.

“This loss occurred when your son was in a closed area of the property and toppled a glass sculpture. Under common law in Kansas, you are responsible for the supervision of a minor child and your failure to monitor them during this loss could be considered negligent,” the letter said, asking for her insurance information. “The cost of the sculpture damaged is estimated at $132,000.”

For his part, the artist, Bill Lyons, says he just wants to be reimbursed for the amount of time he spent on it, which was two years—the most ambitious piece he had ever attempted. The asking price had been $132,000 before it was damaged. He claims that the piece was damaged badly enough that it can’t be repaired.

Lyons also personally did not have insurance on the piece, so now it’ll be up to the city and family’s respective insurance companies to duel it out. A hug between the two sides probably won’t suffice.

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*First Published: Jun 17, 2018, 1:08 pm CDT