As mysteriously as it came, Southern Utah metal monolith reportedly taken by unknown party

Riccardo Marino, L, and Sierra van Meter, R, look on as their drone rises above the spot where the famous Southern Utah monolith once stood on Nov. 27, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Riccardo Marino, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A new chapter has opened in the mystery of the monolith that appeared in the remote Utah desert last week. This one might be an epilogue: the figure is reportedly gone.

Tyren and Brian Flanders pose with the remaining sheet of metal from the Southern Utah monolith on Nov. 28, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Tyren Flanders, St. George News

According to St. George News, photos and video taken late Friday night by Riccardo Marino began to spread on Saturday, followed by other images from other visitors throughout the day. Just as the mystery remains of who put it there, its vanishing is also surrounded by a question: who — or what — took it away?

One reporting party told St. George News all that remains is a metal triangle.

In a Tweet on Saturday afternoon, the Bureau of Land Management said they had received reports about the missing monolith.

“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,” it said in a statement.

The BLM added that they were not responsible for moving the structure.

Marino, a photography hobbyist, said he was returning from Colorado to California, after visiting family for the holidays, and decided to make the trek to the stainless-steel, three-sided figure after an eight-hour drive from Denver to take some creative night photos of the internet phenomenon.

On their way in, Marino and his partner Sierra Van Meter saw a truck with a large object in the bed, and they joked to each other that the monolith had just passed them on the road. He said it was too dark to figure out how many people were in the vehicle or what exactly they were moving with the truck bed door down.

Shortly thereafter, at around 11:30 p.m., they found their humor had become reality: the location of the monolith was bare, save for a stain of urine and the words “Bye B—-” scrawled in the sand.

Measuring tape shows width of each stainless steel panel to be approximately 23 inches, on the mysterious metal monolith in San Juan County, Utah, Nov. 25, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Monica Holyoak, St. George News

“We were in shock,” Marino told St. George News. “It seemed like it was going to be a pretty big deal. We just love seeing abnormal things, and we just wanted to get eyes on it. Approaching it in the dark, under the moonlight, to just walk up to nothing there, we were just in disbelief for a little bit.”

In a video blog, Marino showed a tire track away from the spot of the monolith, claiming that a dolly may have been used to roll the figure out. But he and Van Meter dreamed a more suitable exit for the structure, taking a long-exposure shot of their drone rising up from the spot where it once stood up toward the stars, like an alien vessel returning from where it came.

After the mysterious monolith was spotted in a remote location near Moab by the Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter assisting in a bighorn sheep survey, it caught the internet’s attention, drawing comparison to the same kind of figure seen in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Despite the structure’s location not being revealed, it was discovered by internet sleuths in just two days and became a hot-ticket destination.

BLM did little to quell the conspiracy theorists, releasing a statement in response to the publicity the prism got. “It is illegal to install structures or art without permission on public lands, no matter what planet you’re from.”

Visitors and onlookers from the web wondered where it came from, why it was there, how long it had been there and what its purpose was. It was covered internationally.

Now, as mysteriously as it arrived, it has left. The Bureau of Land Management said it would not investigate its removal and is leaving that to the local sheriff’s office.

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