Despite reports that cast doubt on its provenance, a "Captain America" chopper purported to be the last remaining motorcycle used in the filming of the 1969 movie "Easy Rider" sold at auction Saturday night for $1.35 million -- or just more than $1.6 million, after auction fees are included.
The chrome-heavy, star-spangled Harley Davidson panhead, ridden by actor Peter Fonda in the ground-breaking movie directed by his co-star Dennis Hopper, was owned by Los Angeles Realtor and movie memorabilia collector Michael Eisenberg.
Eisenberg bought the "Captain America" bike earlier this year, having become convinced it was the last remaining "Easy Rider" motorcycle by Dan Haggerty, the actor most known for his role as "Grizzly Adams." Haggerty had a small part in "Easy Rider," and helped work on the four motorcycles used in the filming of the druggy road movie.
Haggerty had confirmed for Eisenberg stories that three of the four "Easy Rider" bikes were stolen and sold for parts before the movie was released. Haggerty claimed to have built this "Captain America" bike from the wreckage of the fourth bike, which was nearly destroyed in filming the movie's dramatic finale.
Eisenberg and auction house Profiles in History cited Haggerty as their principal reference in authenticating the bike, even though Haggerty admitted to The Times that he had already sold and authenticated a different "Captain America" bike, years before, and provided written assurances to its owner that it was the one true remaining "Easy Rider" chopper.
Fonda, who co-wrote the "Easy Rider" screenplay and drew the original sketch on which the iconic, stretched chopper was based, told The Times he was very concerned by Haggerty's previous authentication, and hoped the auction would be called off.
"There's a big rat stinking someplace in this," the veteran actor said last week.
Auctioneers at Profiles in History, overseeing the Calabasas sale of "Captain America" on Saturday night, displayed documents signed by Haggerty to establish the bike's bona fides.
The bidding was brisk. Lot 1121 opened at 10:15 p.m., with a reserve price at $1 million. Within minutes, the bids jumped by $25,000 increments through $1.1 million to $1.3 million, finally coming to $1,350,000.
It appeared multiple parties, bidding from the auction house floor, had taken an interest. The action at the extremely brisk weekend auction, where Hollywood artifacts from gowns to original movie scripts typically take less than one minute to sell off, lasted a full seven minutes.
Then Lot 1122 opened, a batch of "Easy Rider" movie posters, followed by Lot 1123 -- a tan suit tailored for cowboy actor Roy Rogers.
The "Easy Rider" action was over. The winning bidder was not identified.
According to some reports, the "Captain America" bike, sold at that price, now becomes the most expensive motorcycle in the world.