BOSTON, MA—At the and Literary Rarities sale held Feb. 18 at RR Auction, an anonymous bidder from the U.S. made the auction house an offer it couldn’t refuse. He or she bid $625,000 on a treasure trove of items from the estate of the Italian American man who wrote The Godfather and co-wrote (with director Francis Ford Coppola) the movie trilogy that the novel inspired.
Born Oct. 15, 1920, Puzo passed away July 2, 1999, leaving behind a body of work that included (1955), his first novel, The Fortunate Pilgrim (1965), which he called his “best and most literary book,” (1969), the Mafia novel that made him famous, and (1996), which was adapted for a 1997 TV miniseries.
Puzo, who served in the military during before attending the New School for Social Research and Columbia University, also co-wrote screenplays for such films as Earthquake (1974), (1978), Superman II (1980), and (1992).
In addition to a prolific writing career, Puzo was also something of a packrat, which, as collectors and antique aficionados know, is not necessarily a bad thing. He left behind 45 banker’s boxes of archival materials spanning a half century of his work, including thousands of pages, drafts, storyboards, notes, and varying versions of both novel manuscript and movie screenplay, along with the 1965 he probably used to write the book.
With such a wealth of material from such an iconic author, the winning bid of $625,000 seems like something of a bargain. However, the auction house, which was hoping for at least $400,000, was definitely pleased.
“It is a rare glimpse into the mind of the author of two of the most iconic films of the 20th century,” said Executive VP at RR Auction Robert Livingston, referring to The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. “The archive covers his entire literary career and provides extraordinary insight into his artistry. We are honored to have been selected by Puzo’s estate and couldn’t be more thrilled with the results of the sale.”
The and Literary Rarities auction had a number of other noteworthy sales as well, including: a signed 4 x 6 photo of Ernest Hemingway posing next to a huge marlin (circa 1950s), $10,803.28; a letter from Hemingway to New York Times literary critic Charles Poore (1953), $9,551.33; a signed copy (later printing) of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Wind, Sand and Stars (1939), $8,997.63; a signed first edition of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Ballads and Sonnets (1881), $8,179.33; a letter from Marcel Proust to his lover, composer Reynaldo Hahn (1907), $6,144.60; a signed 5 x 7 photo of Leo Tolstoy (1909), $5,519.85; a signed copy (later printing) of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise (1920), $5,519.85; a signed 10.75 x 13.75 portrait of Ayn Rand (1948), $4,788.53; a letter from T. E. Lawrence to J. B. Acres (1926), $4,446.75; and a signed first edition, first printing of Margaret Mitchell’s (1936), $4,145.40.