An extreme-sports YouTuber claims he removed the Utah monolith, and he posted a video showing him moving the dismantled structure with a wheelbarrow
- An extreme-sports YouTuber claimed responsibility for removing the mysterious monolith in Utah a little over a week after state wildlife workers first spotted it in a remote area.
- Andy Lewis posted a video that he said showed him and friends taking apart the structure under cover of darkness on Friday night and wheeling the pieces out of the desert in a wheelbarrow.
- His story seems to line up with that of Ross Bernards, a photographer who said he was taking pictures of the monolith on Friday night when he saw a group of four men take the monolith away.
- In a statement, Lewis and a friend said they took down the monolith because visitors were ruining the landscape trying to get to it.
An extreme-sports YouTuber claimed responsibility for removing the mysterious monolith in Utah.
Andy Lewis, best known for his BASE jumping and slacklining skills, on Tuesday posted a 23-second clip that he said showed his "team" dismantling the monolith and removing the pieces from the Utah desert. The faces of the people in the video were blurred.
In a statement to Grit Daily News on Tuesday, Lewis and Sylvan Christensen said they removed the monolith on Friday night because visitors were ruining the natural landscape trying to get to it.
"We want to make clear that we support art and artists, but legality and ethics have defined standards — especially here in the desert," they said.
"This land wasn't physically prepared for the population shift (especially during a pandemic). People arrived by car, by bus, by van, helicopter, planes, trains, motorcycles and E-bikes and there isn't even a parking lot," they said.
"There aren't bathrooms — and yes, pooping in the desert is a misdemeanor. There was a lot of that."
A photographer says he witnessed the monolith's removal
Lewis' account lines up with that of Ross Bernards, a photographer from Colorado who said he saw four men removing the monolith on Friday night.
In an Instagram post on Monday, Bernards said he and three friends visited the monolith on Friday to take pictures of it in the moonlight.
One of the photos that Bernards posted — the fifth photo in the gallery above — and that Bernards' friend Michael James Newlands provided to The Salt Lake Tribune was identical to the one Lewis featured in his YouTube video.
Bernards said that about two hours after his group arrived at the monolith, four men approached it and tried to push it over. He said one of them remarked, "This is why you don't leave trash in the desert."
Bernards said that the monolith eventually "popped out and landed on the ground with a loud bang" and that the four men "quickly broke it apart," putting the parts into a wheelbarrow.
He said that as the group left, one of the men looked back and said, "Leave no trace."
Bernards said he believed the men "were right to take it out," adding that as his group was leaving the next morning, people continued to stream into the desert looking for the monolith.
"We stayed the night and the next day hiked to a hill top overlooking the area where we saw at least 70 different cars (and a plane) in and out. Cars parking everywhere in the delicate desert landscape. Nobody following a path or each other. We could literally see people trying to approach it from every direction to try and reach it, permanently altering the untouched landscape," he wrote.
"Mother Nature is an artist, it's best to leave the art in the wild to her."
Several people who commented on Bernards' post accused the photographer of judging the visitors when he had hiked out to see the monolith too.
Bernards later told The Tribune that the people who removed the monolith got in touch with him on Tuesday and that after talking with them he was convinced they were trying to save the landscape. He declined to name the people he spoke with.
The monolith's appearance is still a mystery
Following the monolith's disappearance on Friday, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that its officers "do not have the proper resources to devote much time to the appearance and subsequent disappearance/theft of the structure."
The office poked fun at the monolith's mysterious origins by posting photos of alien faces. "If you recognize anyone from the lineup provided as being in the area of the strange structure on the night of November 27th, please let us know," the post said.Post by San Juan County Sheriffs Office.
A Bureau of Land Management official told The Tribune that the agency was not investigating the monolith's removal but was trying to find the law-breaker who put it up.
It's still unclear who put up the monolith, which Google Earth images indicate was erected sometime between August 2015 and October 2016.
The New York Times reported that there was speculation that the artist John McCracken, who died in 2011, might have been responsible.
David Zwirner, the art dealer who represents McCracken's estate, initially said he thought the monolith was one of McCracken's works. But he told The Times on Monday that after studying photos of the structure, he no longer believed McCracken was responsible.
The monolith became a sensation on November 18 after state wildlife workers spotted it from a helicopter while counting bighorn sheep in the area.
The workers landed to see the monolith up close, and the Utah Department of Public Safety posted pictures from the visit.
The department did not reveal the location, saying only that it was in a very remote area where visitors would risk becoming stranded and requiring rescue.
Soon after, though, the monolith's coordinates were shared online, prompting hundreds of people to visit the site over the course of a week.
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