The scene of Robert Pattinson fervently masturbating to a mermaid figurine in 2019’s The Lighthouse — a film about two men who slowly lose their minds while stranded in the titular lighthouse — is not one you soon forget. And the mermaid itself was recently a part of a coronavirus-relief auction held by A24, the indie production studio behind the film. It was purchased in a bidding war that beat out all of the event’s other items, including the sacrificial May Queen gown from Midsommar.
Its buyer — who purchased it for $110,750 — is shrouded in mystery. I mean, who would want such a thing, made as it is out of resin and imitation ivory? Is it a Robert Pattinson stan? One of his ex-girlfriends? Some creepy, billionaire film buff who would keep it in his film dungeon for its sexual implications?
It turns out the buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a woman. A filmmaker herself, she was drawn to it out of an appreciation for Eggers’s work, and says that The Lighthouse is one of her favorite movies.
“I was planning to get this and have it be something funny in my home … The mermaid is something that’s iconic; it looks like a piece of scrimshaw, it’s authentic to the period” she told me over the phone last week. “And in context, it is sort of funny,” adding that it was also tiny, as opposed to the 800-pound lighthouse lens also on auction.
She browsed Twitter during the auction, and says she was surprised to see that the carving had such a peculiar reputation outside of the film world: “People were saying things like, ‘This is a dude — he’s totally gonna do like, various sex acts with it’; and then there were all of the Robert Pattinson fans.” She takes a moment to praise Robert Pattinson’s acting, but notes she’s “not a massive Twilight fan or anything … It’s mostly like, I love the film, and A24.”
As for the mermaid’s final fate: She’s working on a deed with two different museums, so it will be on display sometime in the future. “It’s all going to a good cause. And in the words of Indiana Jones. ‘It belongs to the museum.’”