Original Maltese Falcon statue set for Bonhams New York sale

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2015-06-26 10:43:02

One of Hollywood history’s most iconic props – the original Maltese Falcon statue - will appear at auction in New York later this year.

Described by Bonhams as “arguably the most important movie prop ever”, the 12” statue is one of just two originals made for the 1941 film noir classic ‘The Maltese Falcon’.

“This Maltese Falcon statuette is one of the most important pieces of cinematic history ever to come on the market,” said Catherine Williamson, Director of Entertainment Memorabilia at Bonhams in Los Angeles.

It will be offered in New York on November 25 as part of the special sale ‘What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic at Auction as Curated by Turner Classic Movies’.

Ironically, in John Huston’s classic film the statue is revealed to be a worthless fake – rather than a priceless treasure gifted to the King of Spain by the Knights Templar of Malta.

The first of the two statues was gifted by studio head Jack L. Warner to the actor William Conrad, and it was discovered in his apartment after his death in 1994. It was sold at auction later that year for $400,000 to the New York jeweller Ronald Winston, who described the statue in an interview with the New York Times as “the most expensive 'fake' in the world”.

Winston later sold the statue privately to a European collector for a price believed to be more than $1 million - making it the world’s most expensive piece of movie memorabilia at the time.

The second example has remained in a private collection for decades, appearing on display at the Warner Bros. Studio Museum and in exhibitions around the world, but had never appeared at auction – until now.

Some experts have speculated the statue’s value at up to $1.5 million, but Bonhams have refused to be drawn on an estimated price for the prop. "The market will decide for this extraordinary and unique piece of cinema history," commented spokeswoman Anne Wilson.

For collectors of Hollywood history, this sale truly could be “the stuff that dreams are made of”.

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