LOS ANGELES — When Ringo Starr decided to live full time in Beverly Hills, he planned to honor his adoptive hometown with an extravagant gift — an 800-pound polished steel monument of his hand making a peace sign.
The city politely declined.
“The commission thanks Mr. Starr for his generous offer but unfortunately the donation did not meet the Fine Art criteria,” the city’s now-disbanded Fine Art Commission wrote after it voted unanimously to reject the Beatle’s gift in September 2017.
On June 18, the city changed its tune. The City Council authorized placement of the 8-foot-tall artwork on Santa Monica Boulevard, where it is expected to attract throngs of tourists when it is unveiled this fall.
“We want to be a city of love and peace,” Mayor John Mirisch told the city’s Arts and Culture Commission last week as it debated which location to recommend to the council. “When you take a picture with City Hall in the background, it symbolizes that.”
The city’s fine arts ordinance requires most developers who build in Beverly Hills to set aside a percentage of their total construction costs for public art, or to donate works of equivalent value that the commission must approve.
To be accepted, such pieces must be the work of an “established artist” with a pedigree of gallery showings and auction house records, someone who derives the majority of their income from art.
For the 78-year-old Starr, who created “Peace and Love” decades ago and paid to ship the bronze original when he moved from Britain to Beverly Hills, the rejection came as a surprise, Morrelli said.
Starr’s team challenged the decision as soon as it received the city’s rejection letter, but by then the 14-day appeal window had elapsed, records show.
Yet Starr persisted.
By the time Mirisch took office in March, “Peace and Love” was back on the agenda. The Fine Art Commission was reincarnated as the Arts and Culture Commission in April, and in May the statue was officially accepted.
But finding a place to display it proved fraught.
In the end, the panel settled on a prominent location in front of City Hall.
Starr sent a note to the council last Tuesday afternoon, thanking the mayor and others “for their passion on this project. ... I’ll see you all at the unveiling, Peace and Love — Ringo.”