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Why are people mad that the U.S. gov't bought a Bob Dylan sculpture?

The timing and the price tag of Dylan's artwork has raised a few eyebrows.

Here's a couple of things you might not know about one of Minnesota's favorite sons, Bob Dylan: he's also a sculptor, and one of his artworks will be displayed at the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique soon. 

Oh, and one other thing: a lot of people are kind of upset about that second thing.

According to a Foreign Policy (FP) article published last week, the U.S. State Department bought the four-foot-high iron sculpture for over $84,000 — during the recent government shutdown, which was the longest in U.S. history. 

While FP points out that the artwork, one of Dylan's many wrought iron gate-inspired pieces, was "paid for with federal funding not subject to the shutdown," critics say the purchase "illustrates the way the State Department mismanages money."

"It strikes me as excessive,” one anonymous State Department official told the journal. 

However, as ArtNet points out, "defenders of the program consider the installation of American art a key aspect of soft diplomacy" — referring to an international relations technique that prizes "cultural or ideological means" over military force or "economic incentives."

The entry for the purchase on, a federal website for governmental transparency, confirms the price tag for the sculpture as $84,375.

It also says the piece will "perform" for seven years, for a period ending in 2026. 

By the way, if the whole Bob-Dylan-as-iron-welder thing is news to you and you're curious to know more, you can check out some of his work in the video below:

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