Elk Tipping

Damage to the antler on Rip and Alison Caswell’s elk sculpture Exalted Ruler is visible after the bronze was pushed over in March. Rip Caswell said the repair would cost at least $5,000.

The elk statue toppler has been identified and Teton County is pressing charges.

Ty Tyson, 43, was charged with property destruction after a March 27 incident in which he was seen on video pushing a bronze elk statue over after being denied entry into The Rose. The incident occurred at about 12:55 a.m.

Property destruction is a felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

The charges were filed by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Clayton Kainer on April 14.

Police said video evidence of that evening showed Tyson had attempted to go into The Rose but came back down without entering. In the Pink Garter Plaza courtyard he slammed a bike rack to the ground. He leaned against the elk statue, which wobbled. He backed away and then pushed it over, according to court documents.

The impact with the boardwalk damaged one of the statue’s antlers. Police estimated the cost of damage at $5,000.

Staff members of The Rose and others in the area said they didn’t see who had tipped the statue, called Exalted Ruler.

According to Detective Phillip Smith of the Jackson Police Department, Tyson admitted to his crimes on March 31 after photos were released asking the public for help and a tipster identified him.

Later that day Tyson turned himself in after a friend told him about the media coverage.

According to Smith, Tyson was cooperative, gave a statement and was released that same day.

In his interview with Smith, Tyson admitted that day why he did it — employment-related stress — and how he was “a little drunk.” Tyson admitted to consuming 15 drinks over the course of the day of the incident, March 27. Tyson said he’s been in Jackson a long time, disliked the direction the town is going and was surprised by “a beef, for no reason” with staff at The Rose.

“I just didn’t think I did that much damage,” Tyson told Smith.

Exalted Ruler, which retails for $120,000, was created by Oregon artists Rip and Alison Caswell and was displayed near Gallery Wild, which represents them. Rip Caswell said Monday that he doesn’t have an exact date he’ll be picking the bronze up but said it will be sometime this summer.

“I go out there a few times every summer to get them some new inventory,” Caswell said. “So I’ll pick it up one of those trips.”

Caswell said he’ll load the 700-pound statue onto a trailer and bring it back to his foundry in Troutdale, Oregon.

There, the first step is welding the broken horn and any other cracks. Then he’ll sand it out and have it repatinated. He estimates the shop process will take two to three weeks and cost “at least $5,000” in labor with his crew, not including round-trip gas prices.

This isn’t the first time one of his statues has toppled. Another notable instance involved a certain Austrian bodybuilder turned “governator.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger “owned one of my pieces over in Sun Valley,” Caswell recalled. “His [now ex-] wife Maria Shriver bought it for him for his birthday. We delivered it behind his home, near a big cliff going into his pool area, so I said they needed to pour a concrete pad underneath it, it needed to sit on something solid.”

Caswell said moles burrowed into the dirt, loosening the base the statue was sitting on. Finally it toppled down a steep embankment, busting the antlers clear off.

“We fixed that up for him,” Caswell said. “It happened right around the time the affair came to light, so when I first heard about it I asked if Maria shoved it.”

As far as how the Jackson tipping affected him, Caswell is similarly good-humored.

“Well it’s certainly tough to sell that piece with it looking like that, but I have no trauma over it.”

Contact Kate Ready by calling 732-7076 or emailing kready@jhnewsandguide.com.

Kate Ready covers criminal justice and emergency news. Originally from Denver, Kate studied English Literature at UC Berkeley and is excited to bring her love for the mountains and storytelling to Jackson.

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