The first thought Deon Point had when he came across “Lobsta Mickey” — a 700-pound statue of the lovable Disney character, but strangely mutated to have lobster-like claws and orange skin — was, “How could this be real?”
As he stared at the odd sculpture online, a second thought quickly replaced it: “I have to have it.”
But he would need to track it down first, and that wouldn’t be easy.
Nearly 20 years ago, if you happened to stroll around Quincy Market, near the promenades, you may have noticed the bizarre — and some might say off-putting — monument amid the bustle of tourists and shoppers. At 6 feet tall, the classic children’s character had a wide grin and a spiny lobster tail running down its back, fitting for a harborside attraction.
The mouse-slash-crustacean first emerged in 2003, one of 75 similar Mickey Mouse-inspired sculptures commissioned for the cartoon character’s 75th anniversary. Some were designed by various artists and celebrities (among them Tom Hanks, Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ben Affleck), and some were conjured up by children from different states.
The Boston-inspired piece made quite an impression. People snapped pictures next to the big, orange oddity, or tried to stick their heads between its giant claws, which were painted with lifelike detail as if the statue was pulled from boiling water.
But it proved to be a flash in a buttered pan. In 2005, Disney organized an auction where the statue sold for $7,500 and the proceeds were donated to Boston Arts Academy. The buyer wasn’t named. Soon, it was largely forgotten.
Twelve years later, Point, creative director for the Boston sneaker store Concepts, was poking around online when he came across images of the uniquely Massachusetts sculpture. Concepts collaborates with Nike on a line of Lobster-themed sneakers, and he was researching local lobster lore for ways to promote the shoes.
“Lobsta Mickey,” which showed up in his search results, struck him as the perfect fit.
He would spend the next five years trying to snare it. While there were traces of it online, including an entry on Atlas Obscura, a website for hidden spots and strange landmarks, and a reference to the statue in a “Zippy the Pinhead” comic strip from 2019, called “Mouse Droppings,” there was little else about where it went.
Some people believed it was still near Quincy Market, not far from statues of Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. A handful even made the trek to see it, unaware it was gone.
“Please help us! We are in search of Lobster Mickey. We are entranced by him and we wish to visit him,” one tourist wrote last year, in a post on Reddit Boston. “He is the only reason why we are going to Boston mid-May — if anyone has any information please comment below. PLEASE.”
For Point, who had all but given up, his search became more urgent this year as Concepts prepared to launch an orange edition of its lobster shoes.
Then “lo and behold,” he spotted a listing for the long-lost relic on eBay in July.
“A gentleman in New Jersey was trying to get rid of it,” he said.
It’s a small world, after all.
Meanwhile, Breanna Rowlette hasn’t thought about the statue in years.
She was an 8-year-old “kid correspondent” for Boston’s outpost of Radio Disney when the company asked its talent to pitch ideas for the Mickey statue concepts, inspired by their hometowns.
Rowlette dreamed up the idea for the lobster-mouse and sketched it at her family’s kitchen table in Lowell.
Designing “Lobsta Mickey,” and watching it go on a nationwide tour with a stop outside Faneuil Hall, was part of her whirlwind year with the radio station that included interviewing some of the era’s biggest stars. She described it as “the highlight of my childhood.”
Now 27 and living in New Hampshire, she was shocked to learn that her handiwork had been located after all this time.
“It’s incredible that something that happened so long ago is coming back up to the surface,” Rowlette said. “It’s crazy for me to think about.”
Point closed a deal a few weeks later with the man in New Jersey, who asked to remain anonymous so details of what he did with the stature all those years are unavailable. Point sent a crew with a truck to collect his prize.
But when they got there, it was in rough shape: Mickey was severely discolored and sun-bleached, split from head to tailfin in cracks, and its concrete foundation was crumbling.
“It was covered in moss,” said Nikita Petrov, president of VIP Movers Boston, which was hired for the rescue mission. “It looked like it had been sitting outside for 10 years.”
It was already turning heads before even making it home. At a weigh station in Connecticut, a state trooper ordered Petrov to open up his van to inspect the object, which is as heavy as a baby grand piano.
“He was like, ‘What is it? I have never seen something like that,’” Petrov said. “He had to take a picture to show his kids.”
Once back in Boston, it got a second life. Point hired a local artist to refurbish and repaint its body, and while he wouldn’t say exactly how much Concepts invested in the project, it was “significantly more” than the $7,500 it fetched at auction.
The day before Halloween, the spiffed up “Lobsta Mickey” finally made its second public debut in the city, when it was set up on Concepts’ Newbury Street showroom floor. And like before, it’s once again enthralling visitors.
“People were a little terrified,” Point said of the customer response. “People think we created this thing, which, of course, we didn’t.”
It won’t be there for long.
Point said he plans to keep “Lobsta Mickey” on display through the holiday season, but then he’ll find it a new home somewhere “within Boston” where it can be enjoyed long term.
So, keep your ears to the ground.