Mario Puzo 'Godfather' Archive Sold at Auction for $625,000

2-19-16 Mario Puzo Godfather
Mario Puzo’s 1965 Olympia typewriter with manuscripts and versions of both "Godfather" I and II screenplays. These items were among an archive of 45 boxes from the author that sold at auction Thursday for $625,000. RR Auction

Mario Puzo's words left a lasting mark on American culture. The author of several novels, his book The Godfather became a classic film trilogy, for which Puzo also co-wrote the screenplays with director Francis Ford Coppola. On Thursday, an archive of the late writer's papers was sold at a Boston auction for $625,000. (The final price includes the auction house's 25 percent buyer's premium on live auctions.)

The archive "is a rare glimpse into the mind of the author" of some of the most iconic films of the 20th century, Robert Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction, is quoted as saying in the auction house's press release following the sale. "The archive covers his entire literary career and provides extraordinary insight into his artistry."

Puzo was born in New York City in 1920 and served in the military during World War II. Upon his return, he went to the New School for Social Research and Columbia University. His first two novels, The Dark Arena (1955) and The Fortunate Pilgrim (1964), were lauded among critics. Puzo called the latter, which was re-published by Random House in 1997, his "best and most literary book." But "even though it was very well received by the critics, it made no money."

It was his next novel that propelled him to fame: The Godfather spent 67 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and sold more than 21 million copies. The films that followed in 1972, 1974 and 1990 were popular and critical successes that earned Puzo two Oscars, a Golden Globe and several other nominations and awards. In its obituary for Puzo, who died in 1999, the Times called the first film "the most quoted movie of its time, with phrases like 'an offer he couldn't refuse' entering the American lexicon."

The archive sold Thursday is composed of 45 banker's boxes and spans half a century of Puzo's work, according to the auction house. The boxes contain items like a 744-page draft of the Godfather novel; storyboards outlining it; the 1965 Olympia typewriter Puzo probably used to write the book; handwritten scenes and dialogue for Godfather I and II; film scripts annotated by Puzo and occasionally Coppola; correspondence between the two; and materials relating to other Puzo screenplays like Earthquake (1974) and Superman (1978). The auction house said the winning bidder was from the U.S. and "wishes to remain anonymous."