The motorbike ridden by Peter Fonda in Easy Rider has been sold at auction
The iconic Harley-Davidson chopper-style motorbike ridden by Peter Fonda in the 1969 classic Easy Rider was sold for $1.35 million (£840,000) at auction this weekend.
The Captain America bike, complete with authenticating documents including a letter from Fonda, was sold on Saturday (October 18) at entertainment industry auction house Profiles in History.
The red, white and blue stars-and-stripes panhead chopper was designed and built by two African-American bike builders, Cliff Vaughs and Ben Hardy, based on design suggestions from Fonda.
“After fierce bidding, we are so pleased that the buyer values this for the cultural icon that it is,” said the seller, Mike Eisenberg.
There were two Captain America bikes built for Easy Rider, so shooting the film would not be disrupted if one of them broke down. The bike sold on Saturday was used in the crash scene at the conclusion of the film.
It was sold as part of a sale of Hollywood memorabilia at Profiles in History’s auction rooms in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles. Bids were taken online and by phone, as well as in person.
Auctioneers’ boss Joseph Maddalena described the chopper before the sale as “one of the most iconic images in American film.” He added: “The bike evokes powerful emotions even in non-bikers.
“It personifies the Sixties, all of the good and the bad that decade brought.
“This is the only original Captain America bike in existence. This is without doubt the world’s most famous motorcycle. It influenced the entire motorcycle industry – after that movie came out thousands upon thousands of people went out and bought motorbikes.
“The film sparked the whole idea of riding motorcycles. The film marked the beginning of the rebellious anti-war era. Peter Fonda’s character was blazing a trail for freedom and this motorcycle was the vehicle on which he did that.”
The other Captain America bike and the two bikes ridden by Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider were stolen after filming had finished. “Legend has it that the bikes were cut up into pieces and that to this day, Hell’s Angels riders wear stars cut from the gas tanks on their leather vests,” explained Maddalena.
Easy Rider, which tells the story of two counterculture bikers who travel from Los Angeles to New Orleans in search of true freedom, grossed $60 million at the box office, making it the third most successful film to be released in 1969.