You might call this story "The Long Goodbye," although it's not the mystery Raymond Chandler wrote about in his novel with that title.

But Chandler's book title applies here. Follow my logic. The Jean Dubuffet sculpture fronting a government building in downtown Chicago for the last 40 years is being relocated. But the date of departure and even the destination remains uncertain. So, for Chicagoans, the leave-taking will mean a long goodbye.

Years ago, residents of the city dubbed the sculpture affectionately "Snoopy in a blender" owing to its amorphous, free-wheeling form – Dubuffet's typically abstraction shapes outlined in black.

A non-objective form with an objective

Dubuffet's instructive description of this work – "a drawing which extends into space" – takes you beyond the busy city street, beyond the significant buildings stiff with right angles and little connection to people.

His free-hand, meandering lines stare down the hard-edged street scene made of steel, stone, and glass. The statue is a comfort to see.

All this is to say that the sculpture should not be relocated. One particular reason goes like this:

The statue was donated to the city for its building across from City Hall. But now Google has bought the building ($105 million), which leaves the art donation – a site-specific gift from noted collector Ruth Horwich – homeless.

Now what? What to do with a gift to a city building no longer owned by the city?

Take the money and run?

My worry is that in order to fulfill the donor's wish, city pols exulting over the $105 million sale will plop the work in some city-owned park. That won't do at all.

Putting Dubuffet's sculpture in a park will take away its potential to humanize a downtown street.

For full effect, it needs to be surrounded by big buildings. Putting the sculpture in a park will trivialize it. City fathers need to find another way.

This is not a sculpture meant for a park. The Chicago Park District shows movies in the park, and that's a public service. This sculpture's public service is to the street, playing a part in the built environment.

In that sense, it's a kind of architecture. You don't move it around any more than you would a building.

Then there's the sculpture's history. It has been standing in downtown Chicago for four decades. By now, it's a landmark and needs to be where it has always been.

Chicago boasts another famous street sculpture, Picasso's 50-foot-tall abstract representation of his Afghan Hound in Daley Plaza, in situ since 1967. Despite the distortions shaped by the Cubist aim to show simultaneous views, it has become a source of civic pride.

The Chicago Daily News columnist Mike Royko pooh-poohed it as "nothing but a big, homely metal thing." At first, many Chicagoans agreed. But with the passage of time, the work gained popularity.

Dubuffet's work is as much a signpost in the streets of Chicago as the Picasso's. Leaving it in limbo suggests that the city sees it as having little importance. The inaction has a consequence. It says this sculpture doesn't matter.

Da Vinci was of that same mind. He didn't think much of sculpture. In his notebook, he wrote that while "painting is more imaginative and beautiful, the sculpture is the more durable, but it has nothing else."

They say he was a genius. But given his sorry view of sculpture, he was a damn fool.