A Wildwood artist who painted a giant golf ball that was on display in Chicago and was stolen over the weekend says he hopes the theft will bring attention to approximately 50 other balls, which are set to be auctioned off for charity.
The 3-foot-tall ball, titled "Chicago's Best," had been signed by Chicago native Jenny McCarthy several weeks back and was on display on Chicago's Michigan Avenue as part of an exhibit to promote this weekend's Ryder Cup golf tournament.
Jeff Budzban, the 57-year-old artist who spent about 45 hours painting the ball, said it was stolen early Friday morning. The balls are part of a campaign to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana and the Illinois PGA Foundation, and Budzban said his would have likely sold for about $5,000.
"I would just like the see these guys return it," Budzban said. "Who is going to buy a stolen three-foot golf ball? You can't put it on eBay."
The ball was anchored in cement on a stand on the 400 block of North Michigan Avenue.
Budzban said he began painting the "Chicago Best" ball and a second ball featuring tropical fish in reference to the Shedd Aquarium in July. He finished them in late August.
"Whoever stole the ball literally shortchanged $5,000 from two deserving charities that support children in our area," Eric Schmidt, executive director, Ryder Cup Magnificent Moments, told ABC 7.
The ball was supplied by the PGA, but the paint and art supplies came out of Budzban's pocket.
"There's disappointment, but in every black cloud there's a silver lining," he said. "There's more awareness of it, so I think we will be able to make that money back and then some."