Hundreds of people crowded into the bar and restaurant area at the Clarion Inn Tuesday evening, many had no intention of placing a bid but were curious about how much the faded wooden canoe hanging from the ceiling would sell for.
“This is the moment of truth ladies and gentleman; what everyone was waiting for,” said Jay Nitz, chief auctioneer with Jack Nitz and Associates. “How often do you have an opportunity to buy a piece of Hollywood history?”
After more than eight hours of auctioning off bedroom sets, air conditioners, memorabilia and thousands of other items contained at the Clarion Inn, Nitz brought to the auction block a wooden canoe that was used in the filming of the 1972 film “Deliverance.”
The movie, which starred Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight and Ned Beatty, followed a group of four Atlanta professionals as they took an extended canoe trip down a fictional river in a remote corner of Georgia. The canoe trip down-river turned south when deep in the woods the protagonists encountered a group of isolated and inbred locals.
Nitz previously told the Tribune the canoe comes with a certificate of authenticity from Ellis Props and Graphics in Hollywood and is believed to be one of the actual canoes that appears in the film. That certificate, he said, yields some clues as to how the canoe made it to the Midwest.
Ellis Props was one of Hollywood’s oldest prop houses; it had been around 92 years when it closed its doors in June 2000. At that time the prop house held its own five-day auction, selling more than 1 million items from its collection.
From Hollywood to Fremont to Hooper, the canoe soon will be on display at Hooper’s Office Bar and Grill.
Owner Kevin Meyer bid $3,000 and won the item.
“Like he said it is a piece of Hollywood history, it’s kind of unique,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he purchased the piece because it fits in with his establishment’s theme more so than because he is a fan of the movie. He said he hadn’t set a spending limit on the canoe, but was happy with what he paid for it.
“I probably wouldn’t have gone much higher,” he said.
Aside from the memorabilia, Meyer said he spent the day Tuesday purchasing a walk-in cooler, dishwasher system and air conditioners to outfit his remodeled business.
“We added a new party room and we’re looking to fill in some of the blank spots on the wall,” he said.
If Meyer was a motivated buyer, others at the auction were there out simply out of curiosity.
Trevor Mueller of Fremont said he came out just to watch and see what some items, like an autographed Husker poster, sold for.
“There were a few things I was interested in, but I didn’t get in on them,” Mueller said.
Instead, Mueller took advantage of an item his daughter would be interested in.
“My daughter wanted a keyboard, she plays several instruments,” he added. “There was one for 20 bucks, they’re usually $200.”
The Husker poster, signed by Scott Frost and Matt Davison, sold for $140.
Some of the unique items auctioned Tuesday include:
• A five-foot stuffed bear —$800.
• An eight-foot carved wooden bear — $2,000.
• A head and shoulder mount of a bull moose — $1,300.