The State Department wants to plunk down $400,000 in taxpayer money for a camel sculpture at the new U.S. Embassy being built in Islamabad, Pakistan, according to a report Monday.
“Camel Contemplating Needle,” created by American artist John Baldessari, depicts a 500-pound white camel made of fiberglass staring at the eye of an oversized needle, Buzzfeed first reported.
Officials explained the decision to purchase the sculpture in a four-page document justifying a “sole source” procurement.
“This artist’s product is uniquely qualified,” the document states. “Public art which will be presented in the new embassy should reflect the values of a predominantly Islamist country.”
State Department press spokeswoman Christine Foushee told Buzzfeed that the proposed purchase comes from the department’s “Office of Art in Embassies.”
Art dealer Steven Beyer of Beyer Projects said the government reached out to him.
“They approached us,” he told Buzzfeed. “We were, of course, quite surprised.”
He said another copy of “Camel Contemplating a Needle” is on display in Napa Valley, Calif.