Perhaps you’ve heard that the original Maltese Falcon prop from the 1941 movie was just sold at auction. The price: a mere $4 million.
No, I’m not going to make this a rant on conspicuous consumption. I don’t find outrageously high prices for art to be all that annoying. I find it a bit depressing that I don’t have that kind of money to spend on art, but that’s a whole other subject. I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to put that money in perspective.
The falcon sold for $4,085,000. IMDB estimates the movie’s budget at $375,000. Of course, comparing 1941 dollars to 2013 dollars is rather misleading. A couple of historical currency calculators put the equivalent value at $4.5 to $6 million. So that one single prop sold for at least two-thirds of the cost of making the movie.
The statue is one of the best-known MacGuffins in film history, ranking alongside Citizen Kane’s “rosebud” and Casablanca’s Letters of Transit.
Speaking of (plot) drivers, the Batmobile from the 1960s TV show sold for $4,600,000. Pound for pound, the bird’s buyer got a raw deal. For what it’s worth, the unnamed buyer paid a bit less than $91,000 per pound, slightly more than the $1.50 per pound of a Thanksgiving turkey.
There are actually three original falcons known to have survived. There is a second metal falcon, and there is a resin falcon as well. Amusingly, the resin bird was sold at auction a couple of years ago and brought in $305,000. At roughly $68,000 per pound, that was a real steal!
Of course, if you don’t limit yourself to actual bird-shaped objects, you can spend considerably more than a measly $4 million on a Maltese Falcon. Any interest in a yacht? The 289 foot toy comes with two three tenders, twelve recreational craft ranging from kayaks to jet-skis, an inflatable pool with inflatable water slide, and an assortment of fishing, snorkeling, and scuba gear. You can charter it for a week at a trifling cost of $475,000. It cost somewhere between $150,000,000 and $300,000,000, but was sold in 2009 for a mere $100,000,000 (in 2013 dollars). That’s only 40 cents per pound! Shows how much you can save buying in bulk.
Given my budget, I should probably be looking at this Maltese Falcon. For only $135, I can score a matched pair in a variety of sizes!