Lego Man artist revealed -- probably
Hours after an 8-foot-tall Lego Man statue mysteriously washed up on the shores of Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota last week, Internet detectives were busy trying to identify the artist behind the curious ... event.
Although the Lego Man appeared out of the blue, he did provide some clues as to his origins. The name "Ego Leonard" was inscribed on the back of his shirt, and a quick Google search revealed that Ego Leonard had a website, which appeared to be written in Dutch with some English translation.
Conclusion? A Dutch artist was behind the statue.
The next question, of course — which one?
Tim Yeager, editor and founder of Sarasota Visual Art, an online publication that covers the art scene in Sarasota, thinks he knows the answer. In an article published on his site last week, he points the finger at the Dutch guerrilla artist Leon Keer.
"I don’t have anything specifically from Keer that says, 'OK, it's me,' but it's all but confirmed," Yeager said in an interview with The Times.
Yeager began his online detective work just hours after Ego Leonard was discovered. "I was like, 'Stuff like this doesn't happen in Sarasota,'" he said. "I knew it had to be a promo thing. It's too different."
Yeager lays out his case clearly in a blog post called "Origin of Ego, the Artist behind the Lego Man."
Not long after the Lego Man was discovered, Yeager quickly determined that the URL for Ego Leonard's website is registered under Keer's personal email address. He also discovered that Leon Keer is friends with Ego Leonard on Facebook. Leon Keer is Dutch. And the artist happens to be in Sarasota this week participating in the city's annual chalk festival.
Oh, and perhaps the most conclusive evidence? The sketch that Keer and his team of fellow Dutch artists submitted to the art festival was a take on the Terracotta Army discovered in the Shaanxi province of China, except that the soldiers look like Lego Men.
Keer himself is evasive about his relationship with Ego Leonard. He has described Ego Leonard as a friend; and a member of his art team was seen wearing a Free Ego Leonard T-shirt. But when a reporter from the Herald Tribune headed down to the street festival where Keer was laying out a grid for his 30x40 3D piece, the artist dismissed his question about whether he was the guy behind the Lego Man.
“It's more beautiful,” he said, “if it's like telling the story of Ego Leonard.”
In any case, the story of Ego Leonard is currently on pause. The statue is in the custody of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, where officials say he is being treated just like other any other found property.
Photo: Internet detectives believe they have found the artist behind the mysterious Lego Man. Credit: Sarasota County Sheriff's Office