A prop falcon was commissioned for the 1941 film version of The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart. Actually two of them. But the one used in the filming--complete with dents left from where Bogart dropped it--sold at auction this week for more than double the original $1.5 million dollar estimate Bonhams had put on the bird.
The movie memorabilia auction, conducted by Bonhams and curated by Turner Classic Movies, was also offering other items of significance in Hollywood. The negligee Vivien Leigh wore while playing Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind brought $56,250, while Francis Ford Coppola’s notated screenplay for The Godfather fetched $22,500, and the 1940 Buick Phaeton used in Casablanca sold for $487,650.
There were some bargains, too. An Esther Williams sequined bathing suit sold for $3,125, while an Edith Head costume sketch for Mitzi Gaynor’s outfit in The Birds and the Bees went for just $750. But it was the falcon that was expected to draw the most excitement--and it did, selling for $4,085,000. From the auction catalogue:
One of two known cast lead statuettes created for use in John Huston's screen version of The Maltese Falcon, the "bent tail feather" bird, and THE ONLY STATUETTE CONFIRMED BY WARNER BROS. ARCHIVES AS HAVING APPEARED ON SCREEN.
Humphrey Bogart plays San Francisco detective Sam Spade in John Huston's directorial debut. Spade tangles with three nefarious characters played by Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre, all of whom are chasing a statuette they believe to be a gold and jewel-encrusted figure of a falcon, but which ultimately is revealed to be made of lead.You can view the auction catalogue online here.