Sold! Ripped flag torn apart by Hurricane Florence auctioned for ‘staggering’ amount

An auction of the battered U.S. flag that famously refused to surrender to Hurricane Florence’s 100-mph wind gusts has topped out at $10,900.

The flag, known as the Hurricane Florence flag, became a viral sensation when viewers watched it get ripped to shreds on a live cam put atop Frying Pan Tower, 34 miles off the North Carolina coast. Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Sept. 14.

News outlets such as the Wilmington Star News referred to the bidding as “staggering” when it topped $10,000.

Twenty-five people bid 96 times for the flag, according to Ebay. All the money raised by the sale is going to the American Red Cross and its relief efforts.

Images of the ripped flag continuing to fly during the storm came to represent “who we are as America,” Frying Pan Tower owner Richard Neal told McClatchy reporter Matt Martinez as Hurricane Florence approached the coast.

“I had a gut feeling it would go over $10,000, but I had nothing to base that on,” Neal told McClatchy. “From a personal stand point, it’s huge to see how much (money) will be spread across all the people who are in need of help. This money will do its part to help out, but so much more is needed.”

Neal said Monday the buyers had not yet decided what they will do with the flag, which earned several nicknames during its live cam appearance, including “the Hurricane Florence flag” and “Kevin.”

Bidding started Thursday at $10, according to eBay. The name of the winning bidder was not immediately released.

Neal bought Frying Pan Tower in 2010, after the former Coast Guard lighthouse was deemed obsolete due to GPS navigation, according to a May 2018 Charlotte Observer story.

He put the tower up for sale in May, but retained majority control of the site. It is now a bed and breakfast inn, operated by Neal and his partners.

The Coast Guard operated the tower starting in 1964, to warn passing ships of the shallow Frying Pan Shoals, the Observer reported.

Hurricane Florence caused some damage to Frying Pan Tower, tearing a few windows off their hinges and recreating “little cyclones” in some rooms, Neal told McClatchy.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs