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At Auction, Maltese Falcon Goes For $4 Million, Dreams Included

How much will it bring?
Bonhams
/
AP
How much will it bring?

Somebody should say this ...

"I am prepared to pay $5,000 for the figure's return"

... just for fun Monday afternoon when a Maltese Falcon statue used in the classic 1941 movie goes on auction at Bonhams in New York City.

That line about $5,000, movie fans will know, is said by "Joel Cairo" (played by Peter Lorre) to "Sam Spade" (Humphrey Bogart).

We suspect, though, that the price paid for the falcon will be much higher. According to The Associated Press, it's "one of two known cast lead statuettes made for John Huston's screen version of the film, but the only one confirmed by Warner Bros. archives as having appeared in the movie, according to Bonhams auction house, which declined to provide a pre-sale estimate."

We'll watch to see how much the falcon sells for. Meanwhile, the movie's last lines (via IMDB) are worth recalling:

Detective Tom Polhaus: [picks up the falcon] Heavy. What is it?

Sam Spade: The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.

Detective Tom Polhaus: Huh?

Update at 6:45 p.m. ET: The Falcon Lands A Buyer

The Maltese Falcon statue has been sold for more than $4 million.

"The final price on the 12-inch-tall prop was $4,085,000, which includes a buyer's premium," the AP reports. The source of the winning bid, which came via a phone call, was not identified by Bonhams.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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