A British company official has been arrested after auctioning a buttock section of the massive Saddam Hussein bronze statue toppled when US forces stormed Baghdad in 2003. The arrest was made after the Iraqi government issued a complaint to British police following an auction in Derby, where the two-foot hunk of metal failed to fetch the minimum price of $375,000 set for the sale. Under a 2003 British law, all cultural property seized in Iraq must be handed over to police, reports the BBC. The bronze butt was offered for sale by Trebletap, a company that specializes in turning war memorabilia into art. Company director Jim Thorpe was busted and has been released on bail.
The firm's founder, Nigel Ely, is a former SAS soldier who was working for British TV on the scene when the statue was pulled down. He used a sledgehammer and chisel to remove the statue's "bum," he told the BBC. He claims that when he asked a US Marine if he could take the souvenir, he was told: "No problem, Buddy. Help yourself." He said he planned to sell it to raise money for an unspecified charity. He has been ordered not to dispose of the metal rear or alter it until the case is resolved. A Trebletop spokesman has said the bronze bum is being held in a secret location.