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Famous Sept. 11 photograph finds Whitestone home

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Stewart Rahr was on a mission.

Rahr, the president of Kinray Inc., a Whitestone pharmaceutical distribution company, took up the paddle at Christie’s biannual photography auction on April 18.

The executive had set his sights on the original print of the famous photograph known as “Firefighters at Ground Zero, September 11, 2001.” The picture depicts three city firefighters raising the American flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center.

The photograph was predicted to sell for $3,000 to $5,000.

Instead, Rahr bought the photograph for $89,625 in heated bidding.

“I would have gone a dollar more than anybody else was willing to pay for it,” Rahr said, “no matter what the price was.”

The picture was scheduled to go up in the lobby of Rahr’s company at 152-35 10th Ave. this week, Rahr said.

The 14-by-9 1/4-inch photograph was taken by Thomas Franklin of The Record of Bergen County, N.J. Firefighters Dan McWilliams, George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein are shown hoisting the flag.

The photograph has become one of the most memorable images taken on Sept. 11. The print has been compared to the famous photography of six soldiers raising the American flag after the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, an image which was transformed into a memorial in Washington, D.C.

The North Jersey Media Group Disaster Relief Fund and The Bravest Fund, two charities that donate money to families of victims who died on Sept. 11, received the money Rahr bid for the print.

Kinray is the largest privately held pharmaceutical company in the world and the largest privately held company in the four boroughs outside Manhattan, Rahr said. Last year the company’s sales topped $2 billion.

The company raised $50,000 for Sept. 11-related charities and donated medical supplies to workers at ground zero in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

“We’ve always been involved,” Rahr said. “It’s the least we can do to give back.”

Rahr said he was taken with the image as soon as he saw the photo, which reminded him of the World War II flag-raising on Iwo Jima.

“We should never forget what a horror event that was,” he said about Sept. 11. “It should always be fresh in our minds.”

The photograph has gotten a warm reception at Kinray. Rahr said he has been flooded with letters and e-mails expressing appreciation that the print will make its home in Whitestone.

“It gives people hope, even at the worst moment,” said Gina Bella, a senior network administrator at Kinray. “It just shows people are forever hopeful and rebuilding.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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