THE chopper said to have been ridden by Peter Fonda in Easy Rider was sold at auction for $1.35 million (£838,000), despite claims it might not be the real thing.
Californian auction house Profiles in History sold the Captain America bike along with three letters of authenticity and some post-movie history this weekend.
Originally, four bikes were built for Easy Rider, two ‘Captain Americas’ and two ‘Billy’ choppers. All were based on circa-1950 Harley Hydra-Glides that, ironically given the law-breaking, drug-taking themes of the film, were ex-police machines. Of the four, one – this bike – was used in the fiery finale, presumably causing some significant damage. That might have saved it, though, since the other three were stolen just as filming wrapped, never to be seen again.
The surviving machine was given by Peter Fonda to actor Dan Haggerty, who had been in charge of maintaining the bikes during the filming of Easy Rider.
Haggerty then sold the fully-restored Captain America bike to the National Motorcycle Museum in Iowa, where it stayed for 12 years until it was bought by Michael Eisenberg, a former business partner of Peter Fonda.
Eisenberg then put the motorcycle up for auction with Profiles but its authenticity has been put into question by another collector who claims he owns the actual chopper used in the finale.
Gordon Granger, Texas, claims he has a certificate signed by Haggerty, proving that his bike is the genuine article. Haggerty admitted to authenticating and selling two Captain America bikes, although insists only one of them is genuine - the one sold at auction on Saturday.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Peter Fonda said: ‘There’s a big rat stinking someplace in this,
‘I can’t tell you which one is real, I know there are two bikes out there that are both authenticated by Haggerty. That’s not right.’