PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Former Providence Mayor Joe Paolino has purchased the city’s Christopher Columbus statue for $50,000.

Paolino, who is now a real estate mogul, told 12 News in February he was interested in purchasing the controversial statue to preserve Italian-American history.

“I don’t want to see anyone melt it down and turn it into scrap metal,” he said then. “History is very important, both good and bad.”

Vandals threatened to tear down the Elmwood Avenue fixture in 2020, prompting a police response. The statue was put in storage after it was encased in plywood and vandalized several times.

“The recommended bidder would keep the statue local, would add important and necessary historical context, and would allow the next generation of folks to both understand the full legacy of Christopher Columbus, but also acknowledges and recognizes the point of pride that Italian Americans have in Christopher Columbus,” current Providence Mayor Brett Smiley said.

The money used to buy the statue will be given to the Elmwood neighborhood to install something in its place, according to Smiley.

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