The cavalry guidon, a military standard, drew a mere $1.9 million, much less than expected, at an auction at Sotheby's in New York Friday, USA Today reported. The price fell below the low-end presale estimate of $2 million, despite predictions it might go for as much as $5 million.
Sotheby's described the flag as a "silk guidon with a field of 13 red and white stripes and a canton of blue with 35 applied gold stars, with a swallow-tail design at free edge; some fraying, splits, and tears; some running of color; staining, including, evidently, blood stains."
The so-called Culbertson guidon was found by Sgt. Fred Culbertson under the body of Cpl. John Foley on June 28, 1876, three days after Custer and his men were slaughtered by the Sioux and Cheyenne in Montana. Of five guidons carried by Custer's battalion, it was the only one recovered.
The sale proceeds go to the Detroit Institute of Arts, whose predecessor purchased it in 1890 for $54. Friday's buyer was not known.