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Ask Chicagoist: Where Do Cows Go to Retire?

By Thales Exoo in Miscellaneous on Oct 24, 2007 5:26AM

2007_10_askcows.jpgAsk Chicagoist:

What happened to the individual Cows on Parade when they were retired?

Easy one. They moved down to Boca and play canasta every Wednesday. And cashed in their moo-tual funds.

Perhaps. Or, more accurately, 142 of the 320 cows were auctioned off to raise money for charity when the exhibition was over. The auction raised $3.5 million ($2 million at the Sotheby's auction, $1.5 million online). "HANDsome" (covered in child hand prints) was the number-one cash cow (ahem), going for $110,000, which was donated to the Children's Memorial Hospital. More statistics for you: the average bid was $25,000 per cow, 97 of the cows were sold to Illinois residents, and other cows went all across the United States, from New Jersey to California. If you won a cow in the auction, the proceeds went to whatever charity you named.

The other herd of cows (the remaining 178) returned to their patrons or corporate sponsors (the people who paid for the artists to make them), or remain on display on public property. You've probably noticed one or two still hanging around the city.

All jokes about our bovine pals aside, the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, who put on the cow shindig, estimated that the economic impact of Cows on Parade for Chicago tourism was $200 million, with over a million (maybe even 2 million) visitors wandering the streets of our city during the (very hot) summer of 1999 searching for cow statues.

Want to reminisce about all the cows? Check out this master list of the exhibit. For each cow, there's a link to a picture, where it was located, the artist and the patron.

We simply hope none of the cows were slaughtered.

Image of HANDsome via Chicago Traveler.

Miss the cows? Need some advice? Email ask(at)chicagoist(dot)com.