The Maltese Falcon (1941).

The Maltese Falcon (1941).

The 3 most iconic bits of movie memorabilia are often said to be Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” the Maltese Falcon from the 1941 film, and Rosebud, the sled that burns at the end of “Citizen Kane.” Of course, we could admit that many other costumes and props have taken on mythic proportions as the years have passed, whether Harrison Ford’s whip from “Indiana Jones” or Marilyn Monroe’s dress from “The Seven-Year Itch.”


Recently, I reviewed “The Slippers,” a film by Morgan White that premiered at SXSW.


Another interesting story revolves around the Maltese Falcon (or, I should more accurately say, the Maltese Falcons) and where they all are now. It was reported in the Hollywood 2016 edition of “Vanity Fair” that Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas hotel magnate, paid $4.5 million for a Maltese Falcon at Bonham’s Madison Avenue showroom on November 25, 2013.


Prior to that time, the most expensive item from a movie set to be sold were cars, the original Batmobile and the Aston Martin that Sean Connery drove in “Goldfinger.”


What makes authenticating Maltese Falcons even more difficult is the fact that a 1975 film starring George Segal, a satire called “The Black Bird” caused even more of the falcon statues to be created.

A Beverly Hills oral surgeon, Gary Milan, owned a falcon thought for years to be the legitimate one by the public, although those in the know felt it was not the real statuette used in the movie, since it was made of lead and weighed 45 pounds. Most experts from the studio days felt the falcon used in the film would have been made of lightweight material like plaster of paris, not lead.


A collector of rare guitars named Hank Risan owned some of the more lightweight falcons and, in a freaky coincidence, Risan became convinced, after the publication of a book by Steve Hodel in 2003 called “Black Dahlia Avenger,” that his own father had murdered Elizabeth Short (the infamous “Black Dahlia” found cut in half in Los Angeles’ Leimert Park neighborhood in January of 1947.)

The article comes to few conclusions about who owns what and what can or cannot be authenticated, although, ultimately. Although Risan has been unable to prove it or profit from it to the extent of others, it is thought that Hank Risan owns falcons #2 and #2, and sold #4 to an unidentified buyer. One more plaster falcon has been eyeballed in the Warner Brothers warehouse, and it came to light that the studio had cast a heavy lead falcon and it was given to William Conrad (star of the television series “Cannon”) back in the sixties by studio head Jack Warner. That one only came to light with Conrad’s death in 1994.

The consortium of Leonardo DeCaprio, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and other unnamed onvestors paid $300,000 for one Maltese Falcon at auction, and Morgan White, in his film “The Slippers” about Dorothy’s red shoes, said that the one thing he was disappointed about was that the pair of ruby slippers that this group of investors bought on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wouldn’t let him film the slippers for his documentary on how that other fabled movie prop was saved for posterity (a film I wrote about from SXSW in an earlier entry).