February 20, 2016
Los Angeles, California
A BIRDIE AND A BOGIE
This month’s Vanity Fair magazine’s lead article, The Mystery of the Maltese Falcon: One of the Most Valuable Movie Props in History, by Bryan Burrough is an excellent read.
Burrough provides a history on “The Black Bird” and the efforts of Mr. Hank Risan, a wealthy collector, to establish provenance on his own “bird in the hand.”
Included in the attempts to solve the falcon’s mysterious past are threads that lead us to: my book, Black Dahlia Avenger, John Huston, George Hodel, Fred Sexton (the artist/sculptor hired by his good friend John Huston to create the Maltese Falcon used in the 1941 film. SKH Note: In 1941, Fred Sexton was reportedly paid $75.00 for his creation, which sold at a 2013 Bonham Madison Avenue showroom auction for 4.1 million.)
As documented in BDA George Hodel, John Huston and Fred Sexton were close friends from their teen years through adulthood. (My mother, Dorothy Harvey, was married to Huston for seven years (1926-1933) then divorced him and married George Hodel. Gives new meaning to “out of the frying pan into the fire.”)
Photo above shows John Huston and Fred Sexton reunited in Mexico, where Sexton lived out the final decades of his life after molesting his 11-year-old stepdaughter at their Palos Verdes, California residence in 1968. Sexton fled to Mexico and in 1971, at age 63, married a teenager. Sexton died twenty-four years later in Guadalajara, Mexico at the age of 88..
See Fred Sexton Full Bio/Timeline link below:
The Steve Hodel/Hank Risan Connection
In March 2011, I located and purchased a Fred Sexton modernist painting from an art dealer in Europe, which I referenced and displayed in a blog on my website.
In 2013, I was contacted by Mr. Hank Risan (referenced in the Vanity Fair article as “the protagonist of this noir thriller”) who expressed a desire to purchase the Sexton modern artwork, then in my possession and we came to an agreement.
At the time of his purchase, he also requested that I provide him with a “To Whom It May Concern” letter backgrounding and summarizing my knowledge of Fred Sexton and his connections and friendship to both John Huston and my father, Dr. George Hill Hodel, as presented in my bestselling book, Black Dahlia Avenger.
I would later discover that his purchase and interest in the Sexton painting related to his desire to establish the provenance of his “Black Bird” sculpture, which he believed was/is one of the several originals created by Sexton back in 1940/41. My signed Sexton painting would be one of those used by Risan in his attempt to validate the initials, “F.S” as described in the article.
75th Anniversary Nationwide Theatre Screening of John Huston’s THE MALTESE FALCON to screen this weekend. The 1941 film will be shown across the nation, tomorrow, Sunday, February 21st and again on Wednesday, February 24th. Though I’ve viewed it probably a dozen times on television, I’m catching it on the big screen, for the first time, tomorrow with a friend, here in Los Angeles. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you do the same. There just ain’t a classier classic than this one. (Well, maybe a few. *s*)
Below “Hodel Investigations” Logo designed by me in 1989 when I opened my office, a decade prior to discovering that Fred Sexton had created the “Black Bird” and his further connections to Huston and my father, George Hodel.