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Sears wants to buy back Willis Tower sculpture
Associated Press
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Published: 10/5/2010 3:45 PM

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Sears has moved out of its iconic tower in downtown Chicago, but the company now wants to buy back a motorized sculpture in the building's lobby.

The brightly colored art installation, "The Universe," was created by Alexander Calder and was unveiled at what was then the Sears Tower in October 1974.

Hoffman Estates-based Sears, Roebuck & Co. moved out of the building in the 1990s. The company told the new owners in July that it wants to buy the sculpture at half of its appraised value, which it says is allowed under a 1994 deal. The building was renamed the Willis Tower in 2009.

The tower's new owners, a Chicago-based investor group called 233 S. Wacker LLC, filed a lawsuit last week asking a judge to block the purchase, saying the 1994 deal has been terminated.

"We believe (the sculpture) is part of the building and part of Chicago," George Collins, an attorney for the new owners, told the Chicago Tribune.

Collins said Sears officials have indicated they want to move the sculpture out of the tower but haven't said where it would go. The new owners estimate it would cost $250,000 to move the installation.

"This is not like picking up a suitcase. This is quite a big thing," Collins said.

A spokesman for Sears said it's too early to say whether the sculpture will be moved.

"That is speculation until we get this settled," spokesman Chris Brathwaite said. "It will be determined in court."