Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 | 6:21 p.m.
A copy of “The Godfather” screenplay that landed in a charity donation bin, and for which the fellows of “Pawn Stars” offered $500, sold at auction Thursday for more money than anyone expected: $12,000.
No one was more amazed than Diane Hutton, manager of retail operations at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, who took the leather-bound copy of the screenplay for the blockbuster 1972 movie to Gold & Silver Pawn, where the hit TV show is filmed, to see what they’d offer her.
“Oh my gosh, to think those guys offered me $500. What if I had said yes, taken the $500 and run?” Hutton said Thursday afternoon after the screenplay was auctioned at a luncheon honoring Catholic Charities benefactors.
Hutton and several co-workers dressed for the auction in what she described as “Godfather-ish” clothes — a beaded flapper dress, pearls and a hat.
Bidding was conducted in person and online, and the only action was online.
Thursday’s bidding started at 10:30 a.m. with an existing high bid of $7,500. A woman from Beverly Hills pushed it to $8,000, and it went to $9,000, and that’s where it stood while the clocked ticked toward the closing bell at 11:30 a.m. And just before that moment, the Beverly Hills woman landed the $12,000 bid.
Tick, tick, bang. Hutton and her group yelled to the luncheon guests at the Mirage, “Twelve thousand! Twelve thousand!”
Charity officials said they wouldn’t release information about the winning bidder until they talk to her and cement the deal.
The screenplay had been discovered in a box filled with book donations at the Catholic Charities warehouse. When a sorter noticed that the book looked special — bound in red leather and inscribed with a message by someone named Al, antenna went off and Hutton took it on Pawn Stars to find out whose signature it was.
The show’s conclusion: It was signed by Al Pacino, a star in the movie. But another Al surfaced — Al Ruddy, producer of the 1972 movie that won three Academy Awards — best picture, best actor (Marlon Brando) and best adapted screenplay (Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola). He learned that the screenplay had surfaced and called the charity, saying he had signed the book for the head of Paramount Studios.
How it ended up at Catholic Charities is a mystery, not that anybody much cares anymore.
Might the winning bidder be able to write off much of the $12,000 as a charitable donation, after taking into account the actual value of the screenplay? Hutton says no, because there is no set value for the book, so it is assumed that it is worth every penny of $12,000.
And the value of cocktail conversation, priceless.