Monument honors victims of fictional octopus attack

A new memorial has been erected in Battery Park in Manhattan. It commemorates those who were lost on November 22, 1963, when the Staten Island Ferry Cornelius G. Kolff was engulfed by a giant octopus.

The only problem is, that never happened. There was never an octopus attack on the Staten Island Ferry. The memorial, however, is very real.

The statue -- and the story -- was created by artist Joseph Reginella.

Reginella came up with the tale when he was riding the ferry with his 11-year-old nephew. "He was asking me all kinds of crazy questions, like if the waters were shark-infested," Reginella said. "I said 'No, but you know what did happen in the '60s? One of these boats got pulled down by a giant octopus."

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The story was born from there, and the fake memorial took six months to build. It is 250 pounds, and directs visitors to the fake Staten Island Ferry Disaster Memorial Museum.

The memorial is merely part of the elaborate hoax, which includes a website and short mock-documentary:

"I thought it was an insane idea but I thought it was hilarious," said Melanie Giuliano, producer of the mockumentary.

Tourists have fallen for the hoax, and tried to find the fake museum. Reginella likes to sit by the memorial and eavesdrop on those who look at the memorial. When he overhears people saying, "How come nobody has ever heard of this," he'll cut in and mention that it happened the same day as the JFK assassination -- so it did not make the news.

Reginella designs props and sculpts. He has made headlines previously: he made the shark Rihanna laid in on the March 2015 issue of Harper's Bazaar. Sixteen years ago, he received praise from New York Mayor Ed Koch with a sculptor of Rudy Giuliani plowing through New York merchants and artisans.

For his latest creation, Reginella just wants to add some whimsy to New York. "I just want to make people smile," he said.

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