Despite a last-ditch effort by Helsingør Council to keep him at home, the bronze statue of mythological Viking hero Holger Danske will be leaving the town that has housed him for the past century.
The statue was purchased yesterday by a group of businessmen from the western Jutland town of Skjern. They bought Holger for 3.2 million kroner, outbidding Helsingør's mayor, Johannes Hecht-Nielsen (Venstre), who told Helsingør Dagblad that he was only authorised by the council to bid up to three million kroner.
And thus ended the strange saga of a bronze statue that was virtually unknown just two weeks ago.
Put up for sale on April 15 by Hotel Marienlyst, the bronze statue set off a wave of nationalistic furore led by far-right party Dansk Folkeparti (DF). Upon news of the impending sale, DF members wanted parliament to buy the statue in order to prevent it from ending in foreign hands.
“In my opinion it is a national treasure that shouldn’t end up in a random person’s hands,” DF's values spokesperson Pia Kjærsgaard told BT tabloid. “That is why I want to propose that parliament buy the statue and place it outside Christiansborg.”
DF MEP Morten Messerschmidt also called for action to ensure the statue remained in Denmark.
"It's a part of Danish culture and ought to be placed in a fitting setting," Messerschmidt told Berlingske newspaper.
Many of those in a tizzy may have been confusing the bronze version with the concrete statue of Holger Danske, which was never put up for sale and which continues to sit in Helsingør's Kronborg Castle, where it is a popular tourist attraction.
In response to "all of the overly-romantic nationalism that has popped up around the statue," as programme editor Morten Hesseldahl put it, the radio programme Monte Carlo placed a phony bid for the statue on the online auction site Lauritz.com. The programme's listeners quickly followed suit, and false bids soon reached up to 40 million kroner. That caused Lauritz to pull the statue, which has an estimated value of 2.5 million kroner, from the online auction and instead only take bids over the phone.
The Skjern collective said that they had not yet decided Holger's final destination, but a spokesman for the group, Jørgen Axelsen, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper that he felt a bit bad outbidding Helsingør.
"It's great to have won the auction, but I'm sad that Helsingør didn't get him," Axelsen said. "I sort of feel like I have stolen him from them."
Helsingør residents will just have to console themselves with that other Holger Danske statue.