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Robert James Cassilly Jr. (November 9, 1949 – September 26, 2011) was an American sculptor, entrepreneur, and creative director based in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1997, Cassilly founded the idiosyncratic City Museum, which draws over 700,000 visitors a year and is one of the city's leading tourist attractions.
Cassilly was born in Webster Groves, Missouri, to a homemaker and a building contractor. He began skipping school by age 14 to work as an apprentice for a local sculptor, Rudolph Torrini. Cassilly graduated from Vianney High School, then earned a bachelor's degree in art from Fontbonne University in St. Louis.
While at Fontbonne University, Cassilly met and married his first wife, painter and printmaker Cecelia Davidson. In May 1972, the couple honeymooned in Rome. They were visiting St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City when Laszlo Toth attacked Michelangelo's The Pieta. Cassilly was the first to act and subdued Toth.
While living in St. Louis, Cassily and Davidson restored over 36 dilapidated Victorian buildings. These restorations led to the construction of six townhouses, for which he designed the architectural flourishes. The project led Cassilly to start making sculptures professionally. He soon became known for his public pieces that depict animals such as turtles and hippos. The couple also built and ran a restaurant in Lafayette Square.
Cassilly reportedly grew tired of Hawaii, returned to his native St. Louis, and earned a master's degree in art at his alma mater, Fontbonne. There, he met sculptor Gail Soliwoda, whose works include the limestone monument at the Myron and Sonya Glassberg Family Conservation Area. Cassilly divorced Davidson and married Soliwoda.
Cassilly and Soliwoda became business partners. In 1993, they bought a 250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) complex, which included the International Shoe Building, offices and a 10-story warehouse, for 69 cents per square foot. They renovated the site and opened it in 1997 as the City Museum, helping to spark a renovation boom in downtown St. Louis. The museum includes a shoelace factory, a fire truck, two airplanes, and a Ferris wheel on the roof. The Project for Public Spaces listed the museum among the "Great Public Spaces in the World" in 2005. In 2002, financial obligations forced Cassilly to begin charging visitors a fee to park at the museum. Cassilly hung a sign in the museum's parking lot reading, "Greedy Bob's Parking Lot."
Cassilly's other works include hippopotamus statues installed at Hippo Playground in Manhattan's Riverside Park in 1993. In 1997, Cassilly also contributed hippo sculptures to Central Park's Safari Playground near W. 91 Street. He designed two turtles for Turtle Park in St. Louis. A giant concrete butterfly, called the Mysterious Monarch, was unveiled in Faust Park outside the Butterfly House, Missouri Botanical Garden in 1997 in Chesterfield, Missouri. Cassilly's giraffe statue, which stands at the entrance to the Dallas Zoo, is the tallest sculpture in Texas at 67½ feet tall. His works for the St. Louis Zoo include the Sea Lion Fountains and a 45-foot squid statue.
In 2002, Cassilly and Soliwoda divorced.
On September 26, 2011, Cassilly died at Cementland. A police investigation found that he died of injuries after the bulldozer he was driving flipped down a hill. In October 2016, however, medical expert Dr. Arthur Combs concluded that Cassilly had been beaten to death, and the bulldozer accident staged.
Cassily was survived by his third wife, Melissa Giovanna Zompa, and their two children, Dylan and Robert III; and two children from his second marriage, Daisy and Max.