Police say just after noon on Saturday, 42-year-old Tevon Varlack attacked the iconic bull with a banjo, leaving several dents and a hole in one of its horns.
Eyewitnesses called 911. Police arrived quickly on the scene and took the man into custody.
Police have questioned Varlack, who is from Dallas, Texas, but he has not been cooperative with police.
Varlack has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief, criminal possession of a weapon, and disorderly conduct.
The 7,100-pound (3,200-kilogram) bull was created by Italian-born artist Arturo Di Modica in 1989 and installed in lower Manhattan as a work of guerrilla art.
Di Modica says the sculpture was his gift to America. It quickly became a popular attraction.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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