The bird statue used as a prop in the 1941 film noir “The Maltese Falcon” sold for a record $4 million on Monday, during an auction of famous movie props and memorabilia.
“The Maltese Falcon” was directed by John Huston, and stars Humphrey Bogart as womanizing private investigator Sam Spade, and Mary Astor as his “femme fatale” client. The Warner Bros.-produced film, based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett, is considered to be highly influential in the genre of film noir, which is a highly stylized crime drama, typically involving bad attitudes and sexual motivations.
Also sold during the Bonhams New York-hosted auction, which netted over $6 million, was the Buick from “Casablanca,” as well as costumes worn by Viven Leigh, Clark Gable, Bette Davis and Cary Grant.
Check out the 1941 trailer:
The Maltese Falcon statue itself netted $4,085,000. Dr. Catherine Williamson, director of entertainment memorabilia for Bonhams New York, commented, “The spectacular price achieved reflects the statuette’s tremendous significance. The Maltese Falcon is arguably the most important movie prop ever, and is central to the history of cinema.” The auction was the first sale held after a partnership between Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies.
The introductory text of “The Maltese Falcon,” appearing after the film’s opening credits reads:
In 1539 the Knight Templars of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels, but pirates seized the galley carrying this priceless token and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day.
The story then follows Bogart as a private detective, and his dealings with three unscrupulous treasure hunters, all of whom are competing to acquire a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette.”The Maltese Falcon” has been repeatedly named as one of the greatest films of all time, and was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 1989.
Incidentally, for any Boardwalk Empire fans reading, the character Richard Harrow, who is played by British actor Jack Huston, who is the nephew of Angelica Huston, who is the daughter of “The Maltese Falcon” director John Huston, may or may not die at the end of the season 4 finale. Small world.
“Boardwalk Empire’s” Richard Harrow, with hobos in the woods:
Image via Wikimedia Commons.