Bartholdi and Laboulaye announced the planned gift and began raising money in 1875, just as the new Third French Republic took hold.

The statue alone was estimated to cost 400,000 Francs, roughly equivalent to over two million dollars in 2016. Ultimately, the project actually cost twice amount, owing largely to Bartholdi underestimating the amount of metal required for Liberty’s extensive copper skin. Because of the Statue’s high cost, Bartholdi asked America to pay for the statue’s pedestal and foundation. Laboulaye, the statue’s principal financial spokesperson, formed a joint Franco-American Union and formally requested that President Grant commission Bedloe’s Island as the statue’s site.

Bartholdi's design for the Statue as installed on Bedloe's Island. Published in the June 1887 edition of Scribner's Monthly.

Bartholdi’s design for the Statue as installed on Bedloe’s Island. Published in the June 1887 edition of Scribner’s Monthly.

Progress appeared slow. Bartholdi and Laboulaye did not anticipate French disinterest in contributing to a statue destined for a country that failed to aid the nation’s fight against Prussia. Still, by 1880 the committee reached its goal through such techniques as the sale of clay models, a series of banquets, charity performances, art sales and private donations.

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