An Antarctic obsessive desperately tries to give his treasures away
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Dispatches, May 1998
‘I guess it’s kind of a white elephant,” Warren Pearson admits, gazing at the hand-tooled copper pyramid towering over his backyard in Benicia, California. “But I think it’s beautiful. And my God, I’m giving it away!”
The monument is one of three that Pearson, 64, painstakingly crafted in tribute to the upcoming 40th anniversary of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. After lavishing five years and $30,000 of his savings on the objets, Pearson is now offering to erect them anywhere in the world, free of charge. But so far, he’s found only one taker: The Chileans have agreed to put one at their
If all this sounds a bit bizarre, well, that’s Warren Pearson. The deeply sincere college biology instructor suffers from a quixotic obsession with Antarctica that consists of equal measures nobility, inspiration, and lunacy. In 1985 he invested $16,840 in a steel-hulled ketch and set sail from Australia for the frozen continent, hoping the publicity surrounding his voyage
Alas, the voyage went badly awry when a vicious storm blew up in the Bass Strait; a freighter pulled Pearson to safety only moments before his beloved Finegold went under. The incident did garner him plenty of notoriety, but Pearson’s message was largely eclipsed. Hence the monuments. “They’re an enormous engineering project — you can’t imagine all the bevels and angles,”
Photograph by Timothy Archibald