(Courtesy of Lai Hui-chen)
Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) The giant Rubber Duck installation in Keelung suddenly burst Tuesday afternoon, marking an end -- at least for now -- to a troubled life that saw the art piece blackened by pollution and at the center of a dispute with the original artist.
It is still unknown what caused the inflatable sculpture to burst, but a women at the scene told reporters she saw what looked like an eagle strike the Rubber Duck with its talons.
Organizers did not answer phone calls seeking comment.
Reports said that Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai, who is in charge of the event, and the company that manufactured the Rubber Duck were still investigating what caused it to meet its fate just 10 days after going on display.
Huang reportedly said that he will not decide what will happen next until after the cause of deflation is determined.
Keelung's Rubber Duck is not the first one to pass on while on display in northern Taiwan. In early November, another near-identical sculpture from the same series burst in Taoyuan County and had to be replaced by yet another Rubber Duck on loan from Kaohsiung in the south.
In the industrial and highly trafficked Keelung Port, the recently deceased duck had endured controversy since it opened to the public Dec. 21.
A dispute over copyrights involving merchandise sold by local vendors erupted even before that, leading Dutch artist and the man behind the Rubber Duck series Florentijn Hofman to decry the Keelung event as a "commercial circus."
Hofman, who had enthusiastically attended the premiers in Kaohsiung and Taoyuan, was conspicuously absent from the duck's opening day in Keelung.
The duck was later noticeably blackened by pollution from ships passing through the industrial area, leaving organizers scratching their heads for several days as to how to clean it.
The Rubber Duck, which has been expected to bring millions of visitors to the port city, was scheduled to be on display through Feb. 28, 2014.
Following Tuesday's incident, however, it seems unlikely that it will be present during Keelung's New Year countdown party, Huang said.
(By Sunrise Hung, Lin Shen-hsu, Y.L. Kao and Wesley Holzer)
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