New York Post:
John Cartafalsa, 91, was relieved to get home to the Upper West Side after spending five months of the pandemic stranded in Florida.
But as he entered his apartment lobby, his eyes were drawn to a disturbing sight. Tucked at the feet of a neighbor waiting for the elevator was Cartafalsa’s precious Christopher Columbus statue, a gift from a Sicilian-born relative to honor his law school graduation in 1957.
For 30 years the 15-inch bronze has held pride of place in an alcove in the lobby of Cartafalsa’s Riverside Drive co-op.
There it remained, unmolested, until 5:55 pm June 29 when, in a stroke of fateful timing, Cartafalsa came across his 13th floor neighbor, Mount Sinai doctor Sean Morrison, trying to swipe it.
“That’s mine!” said a distressed Cartafalsa, shuffling forward on his walker. What was said next is in dispute, but the conversation ended when another neighbor told Cartafalsa she would restore his statue to its niche.
However, Morrison didn’t let go of his obsession.
At 7:23 the next morning, CCTV footage shows the palliative care specialist, hospital ID slung around his neck, walking through the lobby, into the alcove, where he tucks the statue under his arm, and walks briskly out onto the street.
Cartafalsa was devastated when he discovered the family heirloom missing two days later. He called police and soon the story spread through the building.
Cartafalsa now is in hospital with gall bladder problems, unable to speak.
But his son, attorney John Cartafalsa Jr., 62, says he was told by the co-op board the statue was “destroyed.”
“This guy’s attitude is despicable,” he says. “Morrison claims he told my father the statue was objectionable, but my father had no discussion with him at all other than to tell him the statue was his and not to take it.
“In my father’s eyes the statue is priceless. It has a lot of family and emotional meaning.”
It took six weeks, and only after detectives retrieved the CCTV footage from the building lobby, for Morrison to acknowledge what he had done, in a letter dated Aug. 8, on the letterhead of Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine.
“I am writing to apologize for the removal of your statue from our building lobby and for not discussing this with you more thoroughly than at our brief conversation when you returned from Florida.
“While not an excuse, I had had a particularly difficult day as we watched 10 patients die of COVID that afternoon on our palliative care unit and in the setting of George Floyd’s murder my emotions overcame my logical thought.”
The letter did not placate Cartafalsa. Nor did it dissuade the NYPD from charging Morrison last Thursday with petit larceny. He is due in court Dec. 8.
The theft “has troubled my father greatly,” says Cartafalsa Jr.
Morrison never explained what Christopher Columbus had to do with George Floyd. But destroying statues of historical figures is radical Antifa nonsense which has driven the senseless destruction which blighted summer.