New US embassy in Islamabad to get $400,000 camel sculpture

Published: March 31, 2014

Another copy of “Camel Contemplating a Needle” is on display at Hall Wines in Napa Valley, California. PHOTO: HALL VINES

The US State Department is planning to spend $400,000 in taxpayer funds to buy a sculpture for the new American embassy being built in Islamabad, according to Buzzfeed.com.

The sculpture titled “Camel Contemplating Needle” is the work of American contemporary artist John Baldessari and it depicts a life-sized white camel made of fiberglass staring at an over-sized threading needle.

Officials explained the decision to purchase such an expensive art piece for the embassy through a four-page document by saying: “This artist’s product is uniquely qualified. Public art which will be presented in the new embassy should reflect the values of a predominantly Islamic country.”

In a statement, State Department press spokesperson 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.

Steven Beyer of Beyer Projects, the art dealer for the project, said the government reached out. “They approached us,” he said. “We were, of course, quite surprised.”

The $400,000 price tag “is actually a very a reduced price for this sculpture,” he said. “There is an art market that makes these prices, and this is one of the most prominent American artists.”

Another copy of “Camel Contemplating a Needle” is on display at Hall Wines in Napa Valley, California.

Reader Comments (20)

  • Nasim
    Mar 31, 2014 - 8:12PM

    US has spent Billion of $$$ on wars so spending $400K on camel sculpture should not worry us, its not pakistanis taxpayers money its the American taxpayers money. Recommend

  • just-someone
    Mar 31, 2014 - 9:34PM

    It was news for Buzzfeed since mostly americans read it, a large fraction of whom pay taxes (including this guy). They wanted to point the ‘ridiculous’ price… which is not true since large sized public art is usually pricey.

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  • PakArmySoldier
    Mar 31, 2014 - 9:48PM

    Why a camel? It’s not native to Pakistan!

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  • Spock
    Mar 31, 2014 - 9:51PM

    Well they have money for it, they are not some poor country.

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  • Hammad
    Mar 31, 2014 - 10:11PM

    Camels in the US embassy in Al-Bakistan.

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  • Ali Mohsin
    Mar 31, 2014 - 10:28PM

    First camel has nothing to do with Pakistan culture……its Arab

    Secondly i dont understand why USA even after pulling out of Afghanistan want an dmbassy where 5500 people will bd stationed. They issue very few visas , whats the purpose????

    To kill innocent Pakistanis they use drones, bribe the political leadership for their dirty crimes…….

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  • Muhammad Kashif
    Mar 31, 2014 - 11:16PM

    @ PakArmySoldier , Camels in balochistan, punjab and sindh even if kpk has less. (You know the importance of 3 provinces tied together.

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  • khan
    Mar 31, 2014 - 11:26PM

    well camel has some significance in pakistani culture of thar and cholistan but not very much else where.

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  • Peace
    Mar 31, 2014 - 11:34PM

    It actually depicts the Quranic Verse:

    Those who have denied Our revelations, and became arrogant towards them, the gates of the heavens will not open for them, nor will they enter the Paradise until the camel passes through the eye of a needle.

    An analogy perhaps that those who oppose American values and its doctrines, the gates of America won’t open for them until the camel passes through the needle’s eye

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  • Atif Nawaz Khan
    Mar 31, 2014 - 11:40PM

    Just a way to fool auditors, they might be investing it somewhere else and in books they will try to show this as camel ;)

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  • Mohammed Waza Asswad
    Apr 1, 2014 - 7:34AM

    How long before they make a connection between this sculpture and the Biblical quotation about it being harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to pass through ‘the eye of the needle’ (a narrow gate in a stone wall in Jerusalem) ???

    So another $400k of taxpayer’s hard earned money blown to pieces by idiots with cemtex and a putrid ideology.Recommend

  • JFloyd Waggaman
    Apr 1, 2014 - 9:06AM

    Why is the camel so very white ?
    As far as the association of camels with Pakistan they recently had ‘The International Camel Conference (ICC) under the patronage of Camel Association of Pakistan and the Islamia University of Bahawalpur’ ; maybe that is one reason for the camel in front of our new embassy in Islamabad.. but why is it so very white.. and why is it a parable from Jesus ? …

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  • Apr 1, 2014 - 9:45AM

    It is not US tax-payer’s money. It is gift from Saudis. US could have put a model of DRONE in front of its embassy if it had used its own money.

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  • Bob
    Apr 1, 2014 - 12:09PM

    Nice :) some one is USA is also making good commission out of tax payers money. No harm, its a norm these days people :).

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  • Yahudi Arabia
    Apr 1, 2014 - 12:22PM

    @PakArmySoldier:
    If you come out of DHA you can find lot of camels.

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  • Umair
    Apr 1, 2014 - 12:42PM

    Why don’t they ask for its copy from china? or even in pakistan they can get it for $400 or max $4000. :P

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  • Apr 2, 2014 - 3:18AM

    95% of the above comments are the dumbest I’ve read today.

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  • unbelievable
    Apr 2, 2014 - 5:06AM

    No one forces you to look at the camel … just like no one forces you to read a book or watch something on the internet. If the USA wants to spend money on art you don’t like .. tough .. it’s their money .. why should you care?

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  • truthbetold
    Apr 2, 2014 - 11:54AM

    It would be a more appropriate picture if the sculpture also has the statue of an Arab sheik sitting on the camel!

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  • Naz
    Apr 2, 2014 - 2:23PM

    Welcome to Al-Bakistan….. why d owe need camels to represent Pakistan. We have better things in Pakistani soil… its history , it s culture that can represent Pakistaniat…

    A camel is more of Arabia and dustyr sandy desert…..But one thing for sure.its mocking at Pakistanis…. however hard Pakista( camel) tries, it can never get via the american eye( of the needle)

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