The Colt revolver that Hollywood cowboy legend John Wayne owned and wore in his Academy Award-winning performance for the movie True Grit has sold at auction for almost $A700,000.
Initially expected to sell for just $20,000-$40,000, bidding soared to $US450,000 for the single-action .44WCF Colt, which was made in 1909 and came with Wayne’s holster rig, a few .44WCF rounds and a .45-70 cartridge reportedly carried by John Wayne as a tribute to soldiers of the Indian wars.
The buyer’s premium pushed the final price to more than half a million US dollars, or almost $A700,000.
The low value initially placed on the Colt was based on a lack of provenance when it was first listed for sale with Rock Island Auctions, but its real value became clear once proof of its history arrived.
The major proof came when Gary Hess, who was employed as an engineer in Wayne’s company DECO, provided a statement confirming Wayne had given him the revolver and rig in 1978.
Witnesses were able to confirm the story. Period photographs and the fact that its serial number matched records of Wayne’s gun collection added weight to the claims.
Wayne had enlarged the trigger guard so that his fingers would fit the revolver, and he’d changed the grips.
Wayne wore the Colt in many movies, including True Grit, The Cowboys and Rooster Cogburn.
The three-day sale by Rock Island Auctions included more than 7000 collectible firearms, military artefacts and accessories, and sales exceeded $US8 million.
That pales compared with other RIA events that have reached more than $US30 million in the past year as auctions boom, and RIA is not the only auction house doing well.