When it comes to Hollywood memorabilia, the Maltese Falcon, the black statuette that Humphrey Bogart, as detective Sam Spade, tracked down in the classic film of the same name ranks as the holy grail or props. Some consider, the Maltese Falcon the first film noir ever filmed. Some will debate that claim but if you look for the essentials of a true film noir, the Maltese Falcon checks every box. The prop statue mimicked the legend of the movie. The Maltese Falcon disappeared and mysteriously resurfaced in the 1980s.
Lost to history for decades, it resurfaced in the 1980s in the hands of a Beverly Hills oral surgeon, and beginning in 1991 traveled the world as part of a Warner Bros. retrospective, with stops at the Centre Pompidou, in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, and elsewhere. In 2013 it was offered for sale by Bonhams auction house. There was talk it might go for $1 million or more. But at the auction in Bonhams’s Madison Avenue showroom on November 25, 2013, the bidding quickly passed $1 million, then $2 million, then $3 million. Spectators gasped as a bidder in the audience dueled with one on the telephone, driving the price higher and higher.
Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas hotel and casino billionaire bought the elusive Maltese Falcon statue at a premium. He won the bid at the total price of a stunning $4.1 million. Life imitates art.
Joel Cairo: You… you bungled it. You and your stupid attempt to buy it. Kemedov found out how valuable it was, no wonder we had such an easy time stealing it. You… you imbecile. You bloated idiot. You stupid fat-head, you.