Maltese Falcon statuette to star in Turner Classic Movies auction

The iconic statuette from the 1941 classic film The Maltese Falcon is to be offered by Bonhams in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) on November 25 in New York.

Maltese Falcon statuette bonhams
The statuette has been described by Bonhams as 'arguably the most important film prop ever used'

The lead prop, one of the just two ever made, is speculated to sell for a seven-figure sum in the sale, which is titled What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic at Auction as Curated by Turner Classic Movies.

However, Bonhams' Anne Wilson explained to Paul Fraser Collectibles: "The market will decide for this extraordinary and unique piece of cinema history."

The other example was sold in 1994 for $398,500 to a Ronald Winston of jewellery firm Harry Winston, Inc. Winston then passed the statuette on in 1997 "at an enormous profit" for around $1m.

The present version has never been in a private collection, but has been displayed in museums around the world.

Several plaster cast versions were made for promotional purposes, but these never appeared on-screen and are therefore worth considerably less.

In the renowned film of the 1930 Dashiell Hammett novel, the statuette is a gift from the Knights Templar of Malta to the King of Spain, and is then stolen by pirates in the 16th century. Humphrey Bogart stars as a private eye who becomes embroiled with thieves and murderers who have sworn to find the lost treasure.

"This Maltese Falcon statuette is one of the most important pieces of cinematic history ever to come on the market, and it is with great pleasure that we present this rare cinematic icon," commented Bonhams' Catherine Williamson, director of entertainment memorabilia.

The 5lb lead statuette is thought to have been based on the Kniphausen Hawk, a bejewelled vessel produced in 1697 for George William von Kniphausen, count of the Holy Roman Empire, which is currently owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a pair of Humphrey Bogart screen-worn jodhpurs for sale, a fantastic item from his early career. Sign up to our free weekly newsletter to stay ahead of the latest auction news.

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