Perhaps no more iconic a character was ever conceived in Hollywood than the lovable boxer Rocky Balboa. Created by film star Sylvester Stallone, who also portrayed him in all seven “Rocky” films, Rocky is depicted as an everyman from Philadelphia who started out by going the distance and overcoming obstacles throughout his life and career as a professional boxer. Initially considered just a sparring partner and punching bag for up-and-coming contenders, Rocky Balboa eventually rises up through the professional boxing ranks to win the world heavyweight title. A regular rags-to-riches story by way of a boxing ring.
When the script for the third installment of the series was finished, a scene in the film called for a large crowd to attend a dedication ceremony at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to honor the heavyweight boxing champ. After the speeches and formalities, a gargantuan bronze statue of “The Italian Stallion” standing close to nine feet tall would be revealed to the adoring throng of fans. When Stallone and the producers of “Rocky III” needed a source for this magnificently imposing piece to be featured in the film, they looked to noted Colorado-based sculptor A. Thomas Schomberg. He was commissioned to turn his magic into bronze by creating a majestic, heroic likeness of Rocky Balboa for use in the film. By the early 1980’s, Schomberg had established an impressive and varied client base including museum curators, professional athletes and movie stars including Stallone.
This lot features an exact duplicate by Schomberg – who actually held the rights to create not just one, but three identical copies of his Rocky statue – of the example featured in the film. It was created at the same time as the original version that was featured in Rocky III. According to the artist, Stallone wanted the Rocky statue to symbolize the iconic hero, which is why the statue is posed with his gloved fists raised over his head in victory representing the apex of Balboa’s boxing career. The statue is cast entirely in bronze and stands an imposing 8’6” tall, its raised arms reaching another foot higher. The bronzed “ROCKY” is positioned in a “classic contrapposto pose,” as Schomberg’s Studio describes it, and stands atop a robust, two-tiered black base that measures 34" high, lifting him even taller (approximately 12-and-a-half feet with the outstretched arms). The statue and stand together weigh a combines 1,800 pounds. The imposing figure sports traditional style boxing trunks on which is written “Rocky” in a script text. Adorning the top of the statue’s base is a large, engraved gold plaque that reads: “ROCKY BALBOA Created in 1980 for the Movie “Rocky III” by A. Thomas Schomberg Edition #2/3 on Loan to the San Diego Hall of Champions from Robert Breitbard.” Breitbard, the founder and original curator for the San Diego Hall of Champions, passed away in 2010 at the age of 91.
The third Rocky statue was planned, but was not cast at the time of the other two in the early 1980’s. It wasn’t until 2006 that the Schomberg Studio finally created the third statue which marks the final representation of the original piece and thus, the statue cannot be recreated again. There has been significant interest in the third statue and several serious parties have entertained its purchase over the years, but no one has bought it yet. Currently, the price of the third Rocky statue has been privately valued at more than $1 million.
Includes Letter of Provenance from the San Diego Hall of Champions.