Sold! Famous insurgent statue goes for 40k

The statue went under the hammer at Warsaw’s Desa Unicum auction house on September 6 and was bought by an anonymous buyer. Bartłomiej Zborowski/PAP

The original ‘Little Insurgent’ statue has been sold at auction for PLN 45,000, three times the asking price.

A replica of the statue, which features a little boy wearing an over-sized helmet and carrying a submachine gun, stands near Warsaw’s Old Town, and has become one of the most recognisable images of the Warsaw Uprising.

The statue went under the hammer at Warsaw’s Desa Unicum auction house on September 6 and was bought by an anonymous buyer.

The original, a piece created by sculptor Jerzy Jarnuszkiewicz and dating back to 1946, stands just 33 centimetres tall and consists of painted plaster built around a metal frame. Jarnuszkiewicz, who was a student at the time, entered the figure into a competition organised by the culture ministry looking for projects to commemorate the 1944 Uprising.

Jarnuszkiewicz failed to win but his work of art soon became popular, with reproductions being made for locals and for Warsaw’s blossoming tourist trade.

In 1979 a Warsaw scout group began raising money for a statue based on the figure, and in 1983 the now famous statue, which stand 1.5 metres tall, was unveiled alongside the fortified walls of Warsaw’s Old Town. 

It has since become part of the city’s tourist trail, and features on countless post cards. 

Given that many regard the statue as a symbol of Warsaw there were hopes that a city museum might step in and purchase it.

But speaking after the auction Professor Waldemar Baraniewski, an art historian, said that Jarnuszkiewicz made a number of casts of the figure, some of which are in the hands of Warsaw museums. He also pointed that the original also shows signs of damage and repair.