Well, folks, it's gone. The ominous giant monolith that randomly appeared in the middle of the southern Utah desert has now mysteriously vanished, just weeks after captivating the nation, thoroughly concerning Stanley Kubrick fans, and prompting approximately 2001 bad 2001: A Space Odyssey jokes. In yet another quintessentially 2020 twist to the already strange affair, it seems no one, not even Utah's Bureau of Land Management knows how, or why, the structure was removed, the New York Times reported, sparking questions, conspiracy theories, and existential fears of just how much weirder this damn year can possibly become.
"We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the 'monolith' has been removed from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands by an unknown party," the agency wrote in a statement on Facebook. "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 plot thickens ...
The monolith first made headlines earlier this month, after an eagle-eyed biologist spotted the structure during a joint helicopter expedition between the state's Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife to survey bighorn sheep, in what pilot Bret Hutchings described to local news station, KSLTV as "the strangest thing that I've come across out there in all my years of flying." Clearly gleaning nothing from Kubrick's classic 1968 film, the team proceeded to touch and climb the structure, alarming internet users, a number of Cracked commenters, and potentially ushering in a major transformation in human history. It should be noted that as of writing, there have been no reported sightings of massive babies orbiting the Earth.
While a number of Twitter users took to the platform to share their theories on what happened, citing aliens ...
... with Blink 182 lead singer and notable alien enthusiast, Tom DeLonge even blaming himself for the structure's disappearance...
... officials say they're fairly confident of the monolith's origins. "It's somebody's art installation or an attempt at that." Lt. Nick Street, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, told the New York Times. "Somebody took the time to use some type of concrete-cutting tool or something to really dig down, almost in the exact shape of the object, and embed it really well. It's odd. There are roads close by, but to haul the materials to cut into the rock, and haul the metal, which is taller than 12 feet in sections -- to do all that in that remote spot is definitely interesting."
One possible culprit? John McCracken, a minimalist artist who created a number of monolith-like structures before his death in 2011. "The gallery is divided on this," said David Zwirner, the owner of the Gallery which represents McCracken's work. "I believe this is definitely by John. Who would have known that 2020 had yet another surprise for us. Just when we thought we had seen it all. Let's go see it."
Until art experts either reach a consensus or Utah's local government finds a really good medium, we may have to chalk up the monolith's existence and disappearance as yet another one of the world's unsolved mysteries. As Twitter user @pageofabook so aptly put it:
"Where did it come from
Where did it go
The Utah monolith,
Top Image: Utah's Bureau of Land Management