Michael Soltys — who last showed up here on these mean streets over a year ago with info about Hammett stopping in Key Largo — was first to let me know that the falcon statue on the block at the Bonhams auction cleared over $4,000,000 in open bidding.
Not a typo.
That’s 4 mil.
4 Big Ones.
Any vague concerns I may have had about the dingus not bringing in at least a mil were obviously misplaced, and not that serious. For years now on the tour I’ve been saying that I consider any authentic figurine from the 1941 Bogie flick to be worth at least a million (the guy who paid $398,500 for the other lead bird in a 1994 auction was prepared to go up to one million, no questions asked — but he was bidding against a bunch of people who obviously had no money to speak of, and so saved himself over half a million).
This Black Bird that just changed hands was in San Francisco some years ago for a charity deal, and then owner Dr. Gary Milan kept saying that it was the real Maltese Falcon — the only one used in the movie.
Every time Milan made the statement, Bill Arney (then the Inhabitant of Sam Spade’s Apartment) would turn kind of red and exclaim: “BUT IT’S A FAKE!!!! The Maltese Falcon Is A Fake!!!”
“Yeah, Bill,” I would say as I pulled him further out of everyone’s earshot, “but it’s the fake that was used as a prop in the movie.
“It’s the fake that was handled by Bogart!”
It’s the fake that courtesy the magic of Hollywood and the touch of legend is worth millions of dollars. . . .