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The Total Hot Mess That Was the World's Largest Rubber Duck

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Apparently, we got what we deserved. After months of hype, the world's largest rubber duck, in town for the Tall Ships Festival at the Delaware River waterfront, was quietly carted away on Sunday in a sea of tears and puns. And according to Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, whose pattern was...appropriated... to create the ill-fated fowl, it's our own fault. "That's what you get when you're using an unauthorized work," he recently said to Billy Penn. "You don't get the technical information from the artist and his production team."

The artist's original sculpture was inspired by the Rene Magritte painting of a pipe (Ceci N'est Pas une Pipe). And so while Philly's 61 foot-tall nylon creature may have resembled a giant rubber ducky, per the artist, it was so much more. Said Hofman, with heavy overtones of schadenfreude, it wasn't supposed to be a "rubber duckie or something funny," but rather an image for people to see so they can disassociate from the stresses of their lives and be "free again as (they) were in youth."

The price for misappropriating and misinterpreting his art? Grown men yelling, and children crying. Like, the whole weekend.

Let's take a look at how Duckgate unfolded across the Internet. And then let's never, ever talk about it again.

The hype was fierce. Unless you lived under a rock, you knew a huge duck, THE HUGEST RUBBER DUCK IN THE WORLD, was about to make its way into port for Philadelphia's Tall Ships Festival. Local businesses and residents alike joined in the countdown. It was an exciting time! Kind of like waiting seeing an eclipse, or a comet!

A photo posted by Jen Bielecki (@jennyy_b23) on


Ooooh yeah. It's happening. You guys. It's really happening.

The rubber duck was inflated, and began her ill-fated maiden voyage on the Delaware, where she suffered a fatal blow. But, for a moment - just a moment - my, she was yar.

A photo posted by Samantha Klein (@facestylist) on

A photo posted by Roy (@relt4) on

Uh-oh. Mama Duck? You ok? You OK.

A photo posted by Micro Barbi (@microbarbi) on

A photo posted by Micro Barbi (@microbarbi) on


Just keep swimming, Mama Duck. Just keep swimming.

People begin to notice. Something is not right with "Mama Duck."

People are sad.


Uh oh.


Don't even ask.


We know something's up.


And now we're supposed to make do with selfies with some lame knock-off? See these smiles? Totally fake.

A photo posted by Anita Cui (@anita_____a) on

A photo posted by Jen Bielecki (@jennyy_b23) on

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Don't even try. No amount of duct tape could ever make this right again.


But we made do, because there were some ships too, or whatever.


Please. Now you're making it worse.

Philadelphia: "Oh we can't have nice things!!!"

Ladies and gentleman, #DeflateGate. Ducky-style.

And then the artist was, all like: y'all brought this on yourselves.


At least we had our duck-embellished cocktails to take away the sting of the COMPLETE FAILURE that was the World's Largest Rubber Duck.

A photo posted by Jen Bielecki (@jennyy_b23) on


Promise us: never again.

· Dutch Rubber Duck Artist Cries Foul Over Giant Philly Rubber Duck [Philly Mag]
· Dutch artist on Tall Ships' giant rubber duck fail: 'I hope the festival got taught their lesson' [Billy Penn]