The 16-ft. tall bronze originated in Poprad, Slovakia, where it was first erected in 1988. It tumbled along with other heroic (and out of fashion) statues when the Soviets went down in 1989. For a time, the 7-ton Lenin lay face down in the mud at the Poprad dump -- until rescued by American entrepreneur Lewis Carpenter. Carpenter, who admired the artistry, mortgaged his house to buy and transport the statue to Seattle.
Carpenter died in a car accident in 1994. To recover the statue debt, Carpenter's family made an arrangement to loan it to the Fremont district until a buyer emerged. Asking price: $150,000. In 1995, Fremont put the statue up in the center of town, near a Cold War era rocket also displayed as public art.