The Maltese Falcon statue from the movie of the same name sold at auction for $4,085,000, including a buyer’s premium of $585,000.
The sale was conducted by Bonhams in New York in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies.
The price was at the high end of expert estimates for the piece. Bonhams had declined to offer a pre-sale estimate.
It ranks with the most expensive pieces of movie and TV memorabilia ever sold at auction, trailing the original Batmobile from the 1960s TV show, which sold for $4.6 million, and the Aston Martin driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger, which sold for $4.1 million.
But it far outstripped the $2 million paid for a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, or the $576,000 paid for an Enterprise model used in Star Trek.
The falcon statue was one of two made for the movie but the only one known to have appeared on film. According to Bonhams, markings on the statue — particularly a small dent from where the statue was dropped — can be matched to the one on film.
“The spectacular price achieved reflects the statuette’s tremendous significance. The Maltese Falcon is arguably the most important movie prop ever and is central to the history of cinema,” Catherine Williamson, the director of the Bonhams entertainment memorabilia department, said in a statement.
The piece was owned by an unidentified Calfifornia collector who acquired it in a private sale in the 1980s. The identity of the winning bidder has not been disclosed.