Department of State

State Department Spending $400,000 on a Camel Statue in Pakistan


Beyer Projects

The State Department sure is in anguish from "deep" budget cuts (like every year). Heck, the cupboards are so bare, they even bled $30 million from the Fulbright Program this month. What can the department still afford?

How about a "500 lb. fiberglass, aluminum, stainless steel, acrylic and painted"statue of a camel to be put on display at the American embassy in Pakistan? And it only cost $400,000. And it's not even a one-of-a-kind work.

Buzzfeed got access to a document about the procurement of "Camel Contemplating a Needle" and has an exclusive report:

The work, by noted American artist John Baldessari, depicts a life-size white camel made of fiberglass staring in puzzlement at the eye of an oversize shiny needle — a not-so-subtle play on the New Testament phrase about the difficulty the wealthy have in entering the kingdom of heaven.

Personally, I thought the camel's expression was more like "a smug realization of its own sticker price," but I digress.

To emphasize Baldassari's fame, the contracting officials pulled a section from Wikipedia. "John Anthony Baldessari (born June 17, 1931) is an American conceptual artist known for his work featuring found photography and appropriated images."

In a statement, State Department press spokeswoman Christine Foushee said the proposed purchase comes from the department's "Office of Art in Embassies." In new construction projects, she said, a small part of the total funds, about 0.5%, is spent on art purchases.

Beyer Projects

The State Department may have gotten a pretty good deal on the camel, since Baldessari has sold even less inspiring works for millions. But they could have done even better if they had opened the opportunity to competition. The department didn't do that though, insisting that only this camel could satisfy the "unique artistic criteria" for the embassy.

(H/T: Kaptious Kristen)

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  1. “Statue?” Yeah, right. Walking, camel-like drone of total death.

    1. Trojan Camel? That’s not a bad idea.

      1. “Hump-backed for Warty’s pleasure”

      2. It was originally going to be a Trojan rabbit, but they felt the camel was more plausible and could carry more munitions.

      3. It is easier for a shark to jump through the eye of a needle than a poor artist to enter the Biennale

  2. A statue depicting a biblical reference, on display in a Muslim county. What are they trying to do, invite an attack? I demand a $500,000 study be conducted by the Office of Cultural Sensitivity immediately.

    1. And I want $500K to film a documentary of Other Kevin’s study. The poor statue isn’t personally at fault so the working title is “Innocence of Dromedaries”.

    2. And it’s a WHITE camel!

    3. Muslims don’t hate the Bible, just the suggestion it’s the inerrant word of God:…..tian_Bible

      Specifically, the camel/needle thing is explictly quoted in the Koran (Verse 7:40)

      1. That’s good to know, but does not eliminate the need for the study.

        1. No no no, that WAS the study. Please give me my $500k now.

        2. You can’t fool me. Your study was done in a timely fashion, the report was under 1000 pages long, and you reached a conclusion. This was not a government study.

          1. That just means you need another $500k study to determine if my study deserved the $500k I was paid for it.

    4. I want a statue of a camel with it’s nose under the tent. Seems more appropriate.

  3. Where are Americans United for Church and State when you need them?

  4. So that’s what Andy Kaufman has been doing since his “death”? Only about six more weeks to the 30th anniversary.

    1. No, this is incorrect. He’s currently the leader of a major nation.

      1. I still hold to my theory that Andy Kaufman got a sex change after faking his death and is the real identity of Ann Coulter.

        1. That’s absurd, because he got a race change and moved to Chicago years ago.

  5. MikeMikeMikeMikeMike! Guess what day it is, Mike?

  6. Where’s my stinkin’ hat tip??

    1. Where’d you post/send it? I didn’t see.

    2. No hat tip for you!

      /The hat tip Nazi.

      1. That’s OK – I’m just being greedy in that I already have my name etched on the hat tip wall from a year or two ago. Totally forgot what the story was, too!

        1. Yeah, but you really want to work toward being in the exclusive 5 Hat Tip club. It is like the SNL 5-timers host club…..-club.html

  7. Look you obstrublican teahadist austeritarians, if it weren’t for the State Dept, this guy would never be able to sell an ugly fiberglass camel statue for $400,000. So what does that tell you?

    Exactly! Your precious Market has failed and that’s why we need government spending on the Arts.

    1. You’d be surprised. I worked for this guy. None of those paintings is selling for less than $30,000.

    2. obstrublican teahadist austeritarians

      Terrible name for a band.

  8. “a not-so-subtle play on the New Testament phrase about the difficulty the wealthy have in entering the kingdom of heaven.”

    I don’t get it.

    Also, do we really need to be funding artwork which draws upon religious anti-capitalist notions and portrays them in a quasi-racist fashion?

    And isn’t that money ultimately going to be better spent on a “hellfire(?)” missile?

    (*note: Hellfire(?) missile technology in no way guarantees eternal infernal damnation)

    1. For that you need fiendfyre, which, along with Basilisk venom, is one of the new known ways of destroying Dick Cheney.

    2. “do we really need to be funding artwork which draws upon religious anti-capitalist notions and portrays them in a quasi-racist fashion?”

      When you put it that way, yes. Because its funny.

    3. Hellfire missile program to be cancelled?

  9. Loosey! You got some ‘splainin’ to do!

  10. Does this count as othering of Muslims? Or is it racist a stereotype of Afghani “desert people”? Can it be both?

  11. OT Question for the Commentariat:

    There is a PETA protest against the Canadian Govt on the street between my office and my apartment. When I walk by on my back from lunch, do I:

    a) Play “Blame Canada” at the loudest volume my cell phone will allow


    b) Politely explain that Canadian clubbed seals are more delicious than any other clubbed seals due to the tenderness of the muscle fibers?

    1. You should go with “b” while serving free shots of Canadian Club.

      1. I’ll have to locate my top hat and monocle for the trek back. And perhaps have one of the orphans carry me in the rickshaw.

    2. c) Roll your eyes really dramatically. That’ll learn ’em.

    3. c) Play the rant from the middle of Dennis Leary’s “Asshole” about the car made from baby seals with an all cow interior.

    4. Newfies club baby seals as part of their rich cultural heritage. That, and every last one of them collecting government pogie when the seal hunt ends each year, pretty much covers off Newfie culture. Libs should respect their culture and not be so imperialistic.

      ( be fair Newfies also produce some great music…I suppose you have to count that as culture. Plus they have cool, but weird, accents.)

  12. Good for Baldessari, now he’s able to finally pay off his student loans.

  13. Common Core assignment. Bill of Rights outdated. Pick two rights to eliminate.…..blem-asks/

    1. Wow.

      I’d guess the answer worksheet for the mindless union drones states that the 2nd and 10th amendments are the ones that ought be eliminated. Although you could make a case that the 3rd is highly unnecessary.

      1. I’d ignore the assignment and delete a couple of later amendments.

        1. 16 and 17 I assume

    2. Is it only 1–10 that they are allowed to consider? Because if not they can toss 16 and 17. It also seems like they are allowed to add amendments. I can think of a few…

      1. I mean, this could actually be a really useful project. It could also be an excuse to sing the praises of almighty government and marginalize those backwards badthinkers. Depends a lot on the teacher.

        1. Could be.

          But given the subjectivity in grading that these assignments are renown for, I’d imagine that any answer less than “get rid of the nasty guns and add healthcare as a fundamental right” is the only answer that would yield full credit.

    3. They don’t even eliminate laws that are outdated, and they want to start with the Constitution?

      How about:

      “We have 17 federal programs to reduce teen pregnancy. How would you determine which ones to eliminate?”

      1. Just have them balance the budget.

        1. No need to traumatize the poor little bastards.

    4. Why do we need speech? Speech doesn’t heat my house! Speech doesn’t feed my kids! And why do criminals need to be protected from search or cruel punishment? I mean, they’re criminals, right? RIGHT?

      We need rights to food and health care and, and…. TV and internet!


    Art clauses. There’s probably some expensive artwork deep under the pentagon where nobody sees it because so much of a percentage of improvement expenditures are often required to commission sculptures and shit.

    1. There’s probably some expensive artwork deep under the pentagon where nobody sees it

      Not under the Pentagon, exactly, but other than that, spot on.…..story.html

    2. Here in Sunny Minnesota they passed an recommendation that any time a new library is built, at least 1% of the total cost must go towards purchasing new art for it.


      My library got a really fancy hunk of twisted metal out front and a dragon mobile inside. No camels though.

  15. “But they could have done even better if they had opened the opportunity to competition.”

    Opportunity to waste taxpayer money? How about if we just close that “opportunity” and give that 400K back to the taxpayers.

  16. It was originally supposed to be a 1000 lb. statue, but budgets have been slashed to the bone. Thanks a lot, Rethuglicans!

  17. Hey! Thanks Zenon! You’ll do 🙂

    1. Hat tips don’t count if you ask for them.

      Can I get a ruling?

      1. All that matters is the author states H/T in the post. Neener neener!

      2. It doesn’t matter what you do to get one, it’s yours.

        I’ve never gotten a h/t. Well, maybe kinda, sorta when one of the authors thanked me in the comments for fixing a typo.

        1. I got a jimmy hat tip 🙁

  18. Finished my taxes last night. Just what I needed to see. You’re welcome Pakistan.

    1. I finished mine a month ago and already got the refund. Last week, Etrade sent me an amended 1099 because the original contained a whole bunch of basic errors. I’m so pissed.

  19. I guess it’s better than sending them weapons to be used against our troops at a later date still to be determined.

    1. It’s kind of hilarious that you think they’re doing one of those things and not the other.

      1. I know right. I should have probably added a “in this instance”.

  20. National greatness requires this statue, Zenon. Why do you hate America?

    1. You’re really going for that open position on John McCain’s staff, aren’t you? Fair warning though, the new guy has to empty the bedpan he keeps under the desk.

  21. “But they could have done even better if they had opened the opportunity to competition.”

    Theft is theft no matter how much competition there is. Wtf is wrong with some people? If you don’t want someone holding a gun to your head ordering you to pay up every week on the premise that if you don’t, violence will be used against you…..then how in the hell is it suddenly ok when a politician does so?

    Many know that folks pull this crap because they are shielded from consequences by the politicians who hide behind the police and standing armies. If someone revoked their consent to be governed and therefore payed no taxes (Extortion) based upon the blatant theft that happens every day and the failure of representation in itself, you can be rest assured violence will be used against them by the state.

    1. Those are really original ideas that no one has ever posted before on H/R. Can you tell me more?

      1. What part of the “many know” did you not get? I can teach you, but I have to charge.

  22. Let’s hope the Pakistanis don’t think it’s Dasha Ma.

  23. That’s a dromedary, not a Camel, no?

    Q: Why do they call camels the ships of the desert?

    A: Because they are full of Arab semen.

    1. There’s two type of camel – dromedary and Bactrian

      Dromedary (the kind in the picture) inhabits the middle east and the Bactrian central asia.

      You know – these retards at State didn’t even get the right camel for the area – they’re far more likely to be familiar with bactrians than dromedaries in Pakistan.

      1. As pointed out above, it’s not a specifically Christian religious reference, as the same line gets quoted in the Koran.

        1. Pretty sure Mohammad was raised in a Christian tribe and he got it from Christian scripture.

  24. Wait, wait, wait . . . wait – they’re putting an explicit Christian religious reference in not only a US government 9public) building but in the embassy to a majority Muslim nation?

    The *State* department is doing this, not one of the military HQ’s (which tend to be pretty tone deaf regarding this religious conflict thing), the guys who are supposed to be trained in diplomacy?

    Putting a goddamned *manger* on the city hall lawn draws a huge protest in *this* country so we don’t do it – and the atheists here aren’t known for blowing up people who insult them.

  25. This is a protestable action. Anyone want to fund a legal battle?


    I am writing to you because my wife’s business (Christine Ann Photos) is interested in any art acquisitions you accomplish in the future. I notice in your Sole Source Justification for SAQMMA14M0119, you list no companies have expressed a written interest. We can fulfill your needs for well under $400,000 dollars and are expressing interest. Now you can fill that block.

    We are a Small Business and will become SAM registered upon request.

    Thank you,

    Christopher Fisher

    The Contract action can be found on FBO.


  27. Why not pay some dude to stand out in front with his camel $10,000 a year for 40 years. JERBS!

  28. The needle was a small night time entrance to Jerusalem that camels had to bow in order to enter.

    The point of the story is to say rich men must also be humble to god in order to enter heaven.

  29. I am so sick of hearing about this waste of money … how about fixing some potholes in the good ole USA with that $400K.

    Whoever approved this should be fired. Whoever voted for it should be voted out.

    Seriously, we have to start making a big deal about this stuff. I am working my rear end off, pay my taxes and and fed up with what the federal government is spending our money on.

  30. I have a feeling they will be alright.

  31. Your study was done in a timely fashion, the report was under 1000 pages long, and you reached a conclusion.

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