- On 07/08/2017
- In Auction News
By Anna Slater
A giant bronze eagle perched atop a Nazi swastika which was lost in a shipwreck during the Second World Wa r will be sold off to raise money for its military.
The giant statue sunk on board Nazi battleship Graf Spee off the coast of Uruguay in 1939 - but a private salvage company recovered it in 2006, some 75 years later.
The bronze symbol, which weighs 300 to 400 kilograms and is nine feet wide, sat on the ship's prow. The figure recovered from the seabed by Alfredo Etchegaray 11 years ago and as authorities decided what to do with it, it was kept in a warehouse heavily guarded by the military.
After a long battle in court, the Supreme Court ruled the Uruguayan state was the piece's rightful owner. But it also said Mr Etchegaray, who worked for a private salvage company, should get 50 % of its profits when the eagle is sold.
Mr Etchegaray previously told the BBC the eagle could be worth up to £10 million - which will go towards funding the country's armed forces and its Defence Ministry.
The German embassy in Montevideo has urged Uruguayan authorities not to put it on display because it could glorify the Nazi regime.
According to the BBC, Guido Westerwelle, who was the German foreign minister during a visit to Uruguay in 2010 told officials in Montevideo: "We want to prevent wreckage from the ship, in particular the Nazi symbols, from landing on the market for military insignia."