The original 12 1/2-foot (4 meter) cast stone version of Felix de Weldon's iconic statue depicting soldiers raising the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima is on display, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. The smaller original statue, which was removed in 1947 and hidden under a tarp at the artist's studio for four decades, is expected to fetch up to $1.8 million when it goes on sale at Bonham's auction house in New York on Feb. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Friday, February 22, 2013 7:35 pm
Original Iwo Jima monument unsold at NYC auction
By JAKE PEARSONAssociated Press
Bidding for the 12 1/2-foot-tall sculpture of the 1945 flag-raising reached as high as $950,000, below the undisclosed minimum sales price, Bonhams auction house said.
"We're a little disappointed with what happened with the sculpture," Bonhams Maritime Art Department sales specialist Gregg K. Dietrich said.
Three potential buyers placed competing bids for four or five minutes, Dietrich said.
The sculpture's owner, military historian and collector Rodney Hilton Brown, did not wish to discuss the results of the auction.
Dietrich said prospective buyers could purchase the sculpture through Bonhams, which will negotiate a price on the seller's behalf.
History buffs have fawned over the sculpture, a miniature of the familiar 32-foot-tall bronze Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. That sculpture, designed by Felix de Weldon, was patterned after a Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press image of the Feb. 23, 1945, flag-raising by Marines and a Navy Corpsman on Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi.
The smaller sculpture was largely forgotten about for more than four decades after de Walden placed it in the back of his studio, covering it with a tarp. That's where Brown found it in 1990 while researching a book on de Weldon. It was in desperate need of restoration.
Brown bought the 5-ton monument, paying for it with cash and two peculiar collectors' items: a Stradivarius violin and a silver Newport yachting trophy from the 1920s.
In 1995, Brown presented a restored version of the statute to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Brown said earlier this month he wanted to sell the sculpture because "it doesn't fit in my living room."
"I want to find it a good home," he said, "so we can pass the flag onto somebody else."