The Maltese Falcon prop, used in the 1941 film of the same name, is expected to fetch up to $1.5 million at auction this November.
The antique bird statue has been called one of the greatest movie props of all time, and is expected to command a seven-figure sum when it goes up for auction at Bonhams in New York on November 25.
Memorabilia expert Catherine Williams said that the bird statue is “the greatest film prop ever, described by Sam Spade as ‘the stuff that dreams are made of.’ The irony is this lead fake is now going for a fortune as the ultimate movie collectors’ item.”
The 1941 film, based on the Dashiell Hammett novel of the same name, stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade. Not only is the titular Maltese Falcon the “greatest film prop ever,” it’s also one of the most famous MacGuffins of all time.
A MacGuffin is a literature and film trope, and is generally an object, place or person. It is an item that drives the plot along, though it often bears little importance to the overall plot.
In The Maltese Falcon, Bogart’s character becomes embroiled in an underworld tug-of-war for the statue, which is considered incredibly valuable. In the climax of the novel and film, the Maltese Falcon is revealed, ironically, to be completely worthless despite the belief of many characters that it is priceless.
As Williams noted, the Maltese Falcon is the subject of irony yet again, as it will likely sell for over one million dollars.