Auctions of Cinematic Scale

by Alex R. Travers

Bonhams Maltese Falcon Everyone wanted it or feared it. Men were killed for it. And in late November 2013, Bonhams, one of the oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques, sold it for $4,085,000.

Still wondering what it is? “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of”—the iconic lead statuette used in the 1941 film noir The Maltese Falcon.

Of course, all that talk about greed, fear, and murder is only applicable to the film, not the actual auction. But Bonhams is one of the best houses at facilitating the buying and selling of items we treasure. And their new director of Florida business development, Jon King, has been instrumental to Bonhams’ success.

A native of Los Angeles, King had lived part-time in Florida for 10 years, and is now a full-time resident of the state. “I am continually impressed with the knowledge and passion of Florida collectors,” says King. “Nothing makes me happier than bringing those collections to the attention of the global marketplace.” King also realizes the state’s vast population of collectors. “Florida has always been important to Bonhams.”

Last year, King oversaw Bonhams’ first ever Florida auction, the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance auction of Collectors’ Motor Cars and Automobilia. He also played a major role in the special sale in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies, “What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century Of Movie Magic At Auction As Curated By Turner Classic Movies.” Other highlights from that sale, along with the falcon, included the 1940 Buick Phaeton automobile from Casablanca ($461,000), a Nautilus diver’s helmet from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ($81,250), and Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy hat from Funny Face ($87,500), which quadrupled its estimate. “The sale totaled just under $6,000,000,” said King, “a superb result for our inaugural sale with Turner Classic Movies.”