Actor and motorcycle enthusiast Peter Fonda has never been one to hold back. Now, he’s unloading on the Los Angeles-based auction house Profiles in History, over the recent sale of the Captain America Harley-Davidson motorcycle featured in the 1969 film Easy Rider – a longtime cinematic favorite of ours here at E3 Spark Plugs. The $1.3 million selling price for the bike purportedly ridden by Fonda in the film is the highest auction price ever realized for a motorcycle to date. But the counterculture icon says something just ain’t right.
“There’s a big rat stinking someplace in this,” Fonda says.
Unconvinced of the chopper’s authenticity, Fonda had unsuccessfully tried to stop the auction. The American flag-emblazoned panhead was sold by LA Realtor and movie memorabilia collector Michael Eisenberg, who purchased it earlier this year and apparently aimed straight for a quick profit. Eisenberg based his decision on the word of Dan Haggerty (of Grizzly Adams fame) who had a bit part in Easy Rider and helped work on the motorcycles used in the film, and who authenticated the bike. According to an auction brochure, multiple bikes were built in preparation for the film, but the $1.3 million prize is the only one that survives.
Not so, says Gordon Granger, a Texas fans who says HE owns the chopper actually used in the Dennis Hopper-directed film. And to prove it, he’s got his own certificate of authenticity from none other than Haggerty. That’s where things get hinky. Haggerty admits he authenticated both bikes but swore to members of the media that the one sold this past weekend is the one and only legitimate Captain America. He confirms rumors that three of the four Easy Rider bikes were stolen and sold for parts before the film’s release and claims he personally built Eisenberg’s bike from the wreckage of the fourth, which was nearly destroyed during shooting of the movie’s fiery closing scene.
Officials with Profiles in History, the world’s largest auctioneer and dealer of original Hollywood memorabilia, won’t name the highest bidder and there’s no word yet as to what’s next in this real-life plot twist. What do you think? Are both bikes legit or is Fonda right about that big, stinking rat? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.