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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 05:23 GMT 06:23 UK
Ground Zero photo under the hammer
Firefighters raise flag at World Trade Center, US Marines plant flag at Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima
Iconic images taken decades apart (AP)
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By Matt Wells
In New York
The first official print of the photograph which has come to symbolise the 11 September attacks has gone on sale, fetching an auction price of $89,625.

The iconic image of three New York City firefighters was taken by a photographer for a local newspaper based across the water in New Jersey, as the light was beginning to fade amidst the ruins of the World Trade Center (WTC).

I'm just glad to have taken a picture that can help people

Photographer Thomas E Franklin
The newspaper group which owns the copyright has allowed only one other original print to be made, which was presented to President Bush at the unveiling of a new stamp last month, which will also bear the image.

The photograph was added to an auction of rare prints at Christie's in New York, and all proceeds are due to go to charities which benefit victims' families.

A unique Man Ray print fetched the best price of the day, at more than $200,000, but the Ground Zero photograph by Thomas E Franklin, of The Record was not expected to reach the price it did.

Charity sale

Unusually for an auction room that is dominated by anonymous telephone bidders, the new owner of the print was in the room, and won a huge round of applause when he beat off the remote competition.

We believe in giving back, and we should never forget

Picture buyer Stewart Rahr

Stewart Rahr runs a pharmaceutical distribution company based in Queens.

It was clear from his baseball cap, jeans and plain-talking approach to the press that he was not used to being in downtown auction houses.

He bought the print with his own money, although all his employees have contributed to WTC disaster charities.

"This will always be on a stand in our lobby, and we are very proud to have been able to do this for the widows, and the unsung heroes and their children. We believe in giving back, and we should never forget," he told reporters.

A delighted Mr Franklin was also at the auction, having signed the print along with the three firemen who are in the photograph.

They were not in attendance, but half the money raised will go towards a charity which they have established themselves.


A huge part of the picture's appeal relies on an earlier, Pulitzer Prize-winning image which it has been frequently compared to.

Joe Rosenthal's picture of US Marines raising the flag on top of Mount Suribachi, after the battle for Iwo Jima towards the end of World War II, became the icon of America's Pacific victory.

Mr Franklin told me, with genuine modesty, that he had been conscious of the comparison even at the time.

"I thought about it when I was approaching these firefighters that day, but the whole scale of what had happened there was so different, so big... I'm just glad to have taken a picture that can help people."

See also:

15 Apr 02 | Americas
Tape 'shows 11 September hijacker'
09 Mar 02 | Americas
Pentagon rises from ashes
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