And just like that, it’s gone.
Last week, a group from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources dispatched to count sheep spied a shiny monolith in the middle of nowhere. It stood about 10 to 12 feet tall and had been expertly planted into the ground.
Now, poof, it’s disappeared.
“We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the ‘monolith,’ has been removed,” the state’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Who took it? “An unknown party,” the BLM said.
“The BLM did not remove the structure which is considered private property. We do not investigate crimes involving private property which are handled by the local sheriff’s office. The structure has received international and national attention and we received reports that a person or group removed it on the evening of Nov. 27,” the agency said.
"We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the “monolith” has been removed by an unknown party. The BLM did not remove the structure which is considered private property…" More: https://t.co/ZXJDGzxDaD pic.twitter.com/xXHdijk496
— BLM Utah (@BLMUtah) November 29, 2020
The monolith, reminiscent of the one featured in the film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” was first discovered on Nov. 18. Utah’s highway patrol shared a picture of the find on Instagram, along with the caption: “Counting big horn sheep with DWR this week. During the counts we came across this, in the middle of nowhere, buried deep in the rock. Inquiring minds want to know, what the heck is it? Anyone?”
“The crew said there was no obvious indication of who might have put the monolith there,” the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) said in a statement.
“The exact location of the installation is not being disclosed since it is in a very remote area and if individuals were to attempt to visit the area, there is a significant possibility they may become stranded and require rescue,” said the DPS, adding “it is illegal to install structures or art without authorization on federally managed public lands, no matter what planet you’re from.”
“One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” pilot Bret Hutchings told Salt Lake City’s KSL-TV. “He was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!’ And I was like, ‘what.’ And he’s like, ‘There’s this thing back there – we’ve got to go look at it!’”
Hutchings said it was “about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all my years of flying.”
“We were, like, thinking is this something NASA stuck up there or something. Are they bouncing satellites off it or something?” Hutchings said. But the crew decided there was no scientific purpose to the monolith. “I’m assuming it’s some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big 2001: A Space Odyssey fan,” he said.
The discovery of the monolith drew plenty of reaction on social media. “2020 is finally coming around,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“Given the way 2020 has been going, maybe just leave it the hell alone for now?” The Daily Beast wrote.
“It’s 2020. Leave it alone. Back away from the monolith,” said one user.
Said another: “It’s no mystery, conceptual art is illegally farmed in remote parts of Utah, from where it’s then smuggled to places like London and New York.”