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In the Air – Art+Auction's Gossip Column

Famous World War II Monument Will Be Auctioned at Bonhams Friday

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iwo-jima-memorial-statue

The smaller, original version of Felix de Weldon’s sculptural rendering of a photograph by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press showing six American soldiers raising a flag at the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II that stands at Arlington National Ceremony (above), which ended up back in the artist’s studio, then at the Intrepid Museum for over a decade, and had been in storage for eight years before recently being installed on public view at 590 Madison Avenue, will be auctioned at Bonhams in New York on Friday.

“Those guys were in danger, they were being shot at. Three out of these six flag raisers were killed within 24 hours after the flag was raised,” the sculpture’s current owner Rodney Hilton Brown told NY1. He came across the work in the artist’s studio in the 1980s “and made a deal to buy it directly from Felix when he was alive. And it took five years to restore it.”

The 20-foot-tall, 10,000-pound sculpture is expected to fetch between $1.2-$1.8 million, assuming Bonhams can find a buyer with enough room for the monumental artwork, which is the star of Friday’s sale of military and nautical artifacts, which also includes flags from the USS Arizona, which was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor. “These show the battle wear and having been in the oil soaked water, and having been recovered from the flag locker or on board the ship,” Bonham’s maritime specialist Gregg Dietrich told NY1, “so there’s absolutely no doubt where these flags came from.”

De Weldon’s triumphant monument will remain on view in the public atrium at 590 Madison Avenue until Friday, when it’s likely to disappear into the private collection a high-rolling history buff.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photo via Wikipedia Commons.)

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