Artist Fred Sexton Designed Maltese Falcon Sells for 4 Million–Few Aware of its Creator's Connections to Black Dahlia Investigation

Los Angeles, California.
November 25, 2013

At lunch last week a friend asked me what I thought artist Fred Sexton’s “Black Bird” designed for friend and film director, John Huston’s  Maltese Falcon, would sell for at the upcoming TCM/Bonham auction?  My guess–based on the hype and sponsorship of TCM was –One Million.  

I was only off by 3.   News just flashed it just sold in auction today for over 4 MILLION. 
See related articles below. 
Obviously Sexton’s own dark history had no dampening effect on the sale-ability of the historic Black Bird. 
In fact, very few knew anything at all about the artist that created it. Its value at auction came from its iconic place in what many consider to be the world’s greatest film noir classic- The Maltese Falcon.  
See the artist/sculptor, Fred Sexton’s biography here.  (Sexton’s criminalityhighlighted in red)
"The Maltese Falcon"
Related links to today’s 4 Million sale of Sexton’s Maltese Falcon.  


December 16, 2013 UPDATE:   For clarification purposes the lead Maltese Falcon sold at Bonham’s auction for over 4 Million.  The Hank Risan Sexton statue was offered at a separate auction, but buyers did not meet the minimum bid price. See story here.


  1. Wiley Newbold on February 10, 2017 at 9:09 am

    While living in Patzcuaro, Mexico, I met Fred Sexton and became close friends. After I left Mexico, we corresponded for years, and I twice returned to visit him and his wife, Margarita, the last being in 1994. I was a witness at their marriage in Ihuatzio, Michoacan (my girlfriend was Madrina), and I still keep in contact with the daughter from that marriage, Girasol.
    While he was a bit of a rake, I seriously doubt the stories of his complicity in the black dahlia murder. It is so far beyond my experience with him. He was funny, literate, progressive, kind, generous (I Have two of his paintings), brimming with creativity to the last year of his life. I miss him still.
    Wiley Newbold

    • Steve Hodel on February 10, 2017 at 10:31 am

      WN: Thank you for the additional information on Fred Sexton. I agree with Head Deputy DA Steve Kay’s legal opinion that based on what we currently know, “there exists insufficient evidence to establish he was an accomplice and to file a murder count against Fred Sexton as relates to the Black Dahlia Murder.”
      However, considering what IS KNOWN I would argue that his criminality extends way beyond your observation of Sexton, “being a bit of a rake.”

      We know (by his own admissions) he (with other adults present) molested George Hodel’s fourteen-year-old Tamar Hodel, had sexual intercourse with his own teenage daughter, then after divorcing her mother (Gwain) remarried and molested his new teenage stepdaughter then after removing large sums of money from his then wife’s bank account, fled to Mexico, where he remained (with occasional visits to the U.S.) until his death.
      I also have no doubt that like my father he was (in your words), “…literate, progressive, kind, … brimming with creativity to the last year of his life.”

      See link below for full bio/chronology on Fred Sexton.

      • Jarvis on October 22, 2021 at 12:46 pm

        Because he was kind Ok the man was almost 90 yrs old his predatory sex drive abated he grew old and weak he was no longer killing and chasing pussy plus he was getting sick at that moment of time you spended with him.does not mean he won’t doing what he was doing when he was younger..he match the identical Portrait of the El Monte suspect who was seen with Jean ellroy in 58.. every thing that Mr Steve has stated about Fred sexton is facts he was responsible for jean. Ellroy murder and a string of other lone woman killings in the 40,s and 50,s along side Steve hodel father George hill hodel.

  2. Jarvis on October 22, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    The man movement was suspicion after the black dahlia murder and his movements grew even more suspicious after the Murder of jean ellroy murder 11 yrs later. plus he fit the profile of her killer a predatory sex maniac look what he did to his own pre teen daughter and step daughter is enough to believe that the man was a predator.when he made that black bird he basically was telling u who he was a predatory falcon.. that’s what falcon birds do they constantly made to prey on they targets use your imagination Steve hodel solved most of the lone women murders of the early to mid 20th century

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