Man says he removed the mysterious Utah monolith

Dec 1, 2020, 6:14 PM | Updated: 6:14 pm
(Credit: Sylvan Christensen TikTok)
(Credit: Sylvan Christensen TikTok)

SAN JUAN COUNTY, Utah – While we don’t know who placed the infamous monolith in Utah’s San Juan County, we’re getting a better understanding of who took it away.  One Utah man is coming forward saying he and his friends took it down, telling people not to abandon personal property on public land.

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The monolith was first spotted on Bureau of Land Management property on November 18, and had been sparking speculation ever since.  Who put it there?  Why?  Naturally, with the internet being the way it is, many people began to joke about aliens being responsible for it.  Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert produced a skit saying “The Monolith Commands You To Visit Utah.”

Speculation was just as rampant when the monolith was taken away, until now.  Utah resident Sylvan Christensen posted a video on TikTok and Instagram saying he and his friends hauled the metal structure away.  On his Instagram page, he added the caption, “Don’t abandon your personal property on public land if you don’t want it to be taken out.”

The decision to take away the monolith is getting a mixed reaction.  Some people say the huge amount of people that came to see it were leaving behind a huge mess, with trash and human feces being left behind.  Others are calling it an arrogant thing to do, saying “The art police are alive and well.”

Later, Christensen posted a statement saying they aren’t proud they removed it, adding that they support artists.  However, it states the damage caused to the land by the swarm of people coming to see it was severe.

It reads, in part…

This land wasn’t physically prepared for the population shift (especially during a pandemic). 

People arrived by car, by bus, by van, helicopter, planes, trains, motorcycles and E-bikes and there isn’t even a parking lot.  There aren’t bathrooms— and yes, pooping in the desert is a misdemeanor. There was a lot of that. There are no marked trails, no trash cans, and it’s not a user group area. There are no designated campsites.  Each and every user on public land is supposed to be aware of the importance and relevance of this information and the laws associated with it.  Because if you did, anyone going out there and filming the monolith and monetizing it without properly permitting the use of the land— would know that’s an offense too. 

San Juan County Sheriff Jason Torgerson says they’ve never seen this kind of attention before.

“We’re used to tourism because we’ve got Canyonlands [National Park] and Bears Ears [National Monument], but not so quick, concentrated on one are,” Torgerson says.

At first, the sheriff didn’t want to investigate the removal of the metal structure since no one had called to complain that their property had been taken away.  However, since so many people came to see the monolith, Torgerson says they really had no choice but to look into the matter.

“We’re working with the BLM on following up on all of that,” he says.

Since so many people were joking about aliens being responsible for the monolith, Torgerson says they decided to join in the fun.  His office posted pictures of possible suspects, including E.T. and Baby Yoda.

He says, “That’s really what brought on all the attention on the whole thing to start with, so we decided to have a little fun with it, as well.”

(Credit: San Juan County Sheriff’s Facebook page)

Investigators have seen Christensen’s video, but, even with this kind of confession, Torgerson says they have one major problem in this case.

“We don’t have a victim,” he says.

Torgerson says unless the person who put the monolith there comes forward to complain about their property being stolen, they have no victim.  Hence, they really don’t have anything to book Christensen for.

By the way… apparently there is another monolith.  That one is in northern Romania.

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Man says he removed the mysterious Utah monolith