Palm Springs, Calif. (The Desert Sun) -- With "Forever Marilyn" being packed up Tuesday morning for its departure, speculation is already building about where the giant statue will be displayed if it returns.
Signs seem to be pointing to the redeveloped downtown, said Aftab Dada, chair of PS Resorts, the organization most responsible for acquiring the Marilyn Monroe statue nearly two years ago.
"We want to bring it back with a decent location," said Dada, using an analogy about the best seats at a football game.
"We want to have a 50-yard location. But at least our goal is to see if we can bring it somewhere between 20 and 25 yards," said Dada.
"Forever Marilyn," created by artist Seward Johnson, has been on loan to Palm Springs for the past 22 months — nearly twice as long as originally planned.
Last week during an event to recognize the statue's stay, Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and other officials said they were in talks with The Sculpture Foundation, which owns the piece, to get the artwork back permanently.
The 26-foot-tall statue is being trucked across the country to the Grounds for Sculpture park in in Hamilton, N.J., for a retrospective on Seward's work through the years.
By the end of 2015, a 14-acre redevelopment of downtown Palm Springs should be nearing completion, a project introducing new streets, shops, restaurants and a 190-room luxury hotel. Tentatively, officials are saying the statue could be erected somewhere in this project.
"We are still working with the elected (officials) at the City Hall. We're talking with John at Wessman's office," said Dada, referring to the project's developer, John Wessman.
Buying the statue from The Sculpture Foundation will require a mix of sources, Dada said, but a majority of the money will be through private fundraising.
"We feel that we have ample opportunity and time, knowing that we won't need the piece until sometime in 2016, based on the progress of the new development center," Dada said.
The asking price is expected to be less than the $1.8 million reported as the statue's cost nearly two years ago — though more than $1 million.
"We are very, very close to coming up with a number," Dada said.