In the 1941 film noir "The Maltese Falcon," the priceless relic that Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade is hunting turns out to be — spoiler alert — a worthless fake.
But at a movie memorabilia auction in New York City Monday, the real prop sold for a stunning $4,085,000, according to Bonhams auction house.
The 45-pound, 12-inch-tall figurine of a bird was part of an auction curated by the classic film channel TCM, which also included such objects as a Shirley Temple majorette jacket worn in "Poor Little Rich Girl" ($21,250), Vivien Leigh's negligee from "Gone With the Wind" ($56,250) and Francis Ford Coppola's working screenplay for "The Godfather" ($22,500).
The falcon, however, was the auction's biggest draw. In the movie, detective Spade famously calls it "the stuff that dreams are made of."
One of two known lead statuettes cast for the John Huston film, the auctioned prop was the only one to appear on screen, according to Bonhams. The figure has a bent right tail feather, damage that occured when actress Lee Patrick, who played Spade’s secretary, dropped it while handing it to Bogart.
The falcon has been exhibited at the Warner Bros. Studio Museum, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
A representative from Bonhams declined to reveal the buyer of the statue.
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