Iconic Iwo Jima Monument To Be Sold By Bonhams Auction House In New York

Category: Media & Culture / Feb 18, 2013 1:47PM EDT
It is one of the most iconic images from World War Two: U.S. Marines planting the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima after a long, hard-fought battle against Japan in 1945. Now the monument will be sold by Bonhams auction house in New York during its "World War II: The Pacific Theater" sale on February 22. It is expected to fetch up to $1.8 million (USD). The monument was famously created by Felix De Weldon, a sculptor serving in the U.S. Navy, in 1945. It was made from a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945. This monument pre-dates the popular Iwo Jima statue at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Arlington's larger cousin to the original was created by de Weldon nearly a decade later in 1954. De Weldon's original monument only stood for a few years in Washington, D.C. before it was moved and forgotten. Military historian and collector Rodney Hilton Brown rediscovered the monument, refurbished it and will sell it. "Most people when they think of the Iwo Jima monument, they think of the 80 ton (72,575 kilograms) bronze that is in Arlington today. They don't know there was actually a first original Iwo Jima monument from 1945, the last year of World War Two. But this is it," explained Brown on Friday (February 15). "It stood in Washington, D.C. in front of the old Navy Department building for three years before they decided to build the Pan American Union building there. So they took it down and they took it to Quantico to model the monument. There is a copy of this at Quantico, and then it was thrown away behind his studio in Washington, D.C.. And I came along a half a century later, writing his biography, and discovered it and acquired it," he continued. The monument weighs 10,000 pounds (5 tons or 4,536 kilograms). It is cast stone over a steel skeleton finished with a bronzed lacquered layer. Brown said the monument depicting five marines and a navy corpsman is more than a show of military might. "It symbolizes courage, devotion, patriotism, sacrifice, working together and the moment of the flag raising was really the psychological turning point of World War II. When people saw that picture of the flag raising, their attitude changed from remember Pearl Harbor to all together now. Let's finish the job," he said. Between 1995 and 2007, the monument was on display at in New York at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Since 2007, it has been sitting in a storage facility. Brown said he is eager for people see the monument again. "I'm 70 years old. It's been in a crate for eight years where nobody can see it and appreciate it. And you can see it's 18 feet (5.4 meters) long, it's 12 and a half feet (3.8 meters) tall without the flag, so it doesn't exactly fit in my living room." Whoever buys the massive monument will also get de Weldon's concept drawings, tools and other historic documents. Also for sale is de Weldon's original plaster maquette for the 1945 monument. It has a pre-sale estimate of between $30,000 and $50,000. The original plaster maquette for de Weldon's monument in Arlington, Virginia has a pre-sale estimate of between $25,000 and $30,000. The original photograph taken by Rosenthal with an inscription to de Weldon has is expected to sell for up to $10,000. There are 186 lots in the Bonhams World War Two auction. The sale documents the U.S. involvement in the Pacific from start to finish. Items for sale include a tattered 48-star U.S. flag recovered from the USS Arizona after it was bombed in Pearl Harbor in 1941. The flag is expected to sell for between $60,000 and $80,000. It also includes ship models used by the military on both sides to help identify the enemy. A model set of British Royal Navy ships crafted by the Japanese is expected to sell for about $1,000. And the original ticker tape announcing the Japanese surrender is also included. It is expected to sell for between $10,000 and $15,000. Bonhams specialist, Gregg Dietrich, said the items are more than a history lesson. "This helps people remember the history and how much of the history is still around. And the "Greatest Generation" is fading and dying and there are not many people who fought in World War Two who survived to this day and this helps us remember not only the war, but also those people who helped us in our freedom," he said. The entire sale is expected to make between two and three million dollars. (Video Source: Reuters)