Posts Tagged ‘Profiles in History’

Dracula’s Cape & Other Ephemera

November 10, 2011

There was a news item on the Internet regarding the decision of the Bela Lugosi family to auction off the cape he wore in the 1931 movie Dracula. Lugosi left the cape to his wife with the instructions that it be given to their son, Bela Lugosi, Jr. The cape will be auctioned by Profiles in History of Calabasas Hills, CA, along with other Lugosi items from December 15 to 17. The cape is expected to sell for $2 million.

Another item dealing with Hollywood ephemera is a Marilyn Monroe dress, specifically the white subway dress she wore in the film The Seven Year Itch. The dress sold at auction in June for $4.6 million. This dress was part of a collection of movie costumes that actress Debbie Reynolds collected during the course of her career in the hopes that they can be part of a museum of Hollywood history. Since the museum is still in the planning stages and it was becoming difficult for Reynolds to keep these costumes, the decision was made to sell the items at a series of auctions. The next auction from the Reynolds collection will take place on December 3 and again Profiles in History will be running the auction.

At the risk of sounding like a crank,  I feel these two items are grossly overpriced. Yes, Dracula was Lugosi’s signature role and yes, the white dress is the iconic image from The Seven Year Itch, yet I don’t feel that they are truly worth the prices quoted. While many items in the Debbie Reynolds’ auction sold for more than what was expected, there were other items that sold for more ‘reasonable’ prices. For example, Laurel and Hardy’s suits sold for $19,000 and Claudette Colbert’s gold-lame dress from the 1930s Cleopatra sold for only $49,000.  (Heck, I could almost afford those items.) The only explanation for the high prices for the Lugosi and Monroe items is that there are those who want these items so badly and price is not an object. It must be good to have THAT MUCH money.

In addition, these items belong in a museum dedicated to filmmaking. While plans were announced recently to have such a museum in a 300,000 square foot building in Los Angeles, things are still on the drawing board and no open date has been scheduled. This lead to Reynolds’ decision to sell the items. While the new owners were contacted regarding loaning the items for future exhibits, it would be good if the Academy would snap up items from the next Reynolds’ auction. Reynolds invested her time, money and energy to purchase and preserve these items for posterity, so it would be a fitting tribute to her efforts that the powers that be at the Academy would grab a film worn custom or two before some billionaire collector does. After all, they are going to need stuff for the museum and they can’t expect all the billionaire collectors to be willing to loan out a every villain’s or starlet’s costume, no matter how many prestige points it earns them.

Note: Any mention of auction houses or dealers of collectibles are mentioned for informational purposes only. It is not to be taken as an endorsement.

Sources:
http://movies.msn.com/movies/article.aspx?news=678662&silentchk=1&wa=wsignin1.0

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-06-19/entertainment/hollywood.auction_1_monroe-dress-bids-auction?_s=PM:SHOWBIZ

http://www.profilesinhistory.com/press-releases/debbie-reynolds-collection-part-2-auction-press-release

Darth Vader’s Costume & Other Ephemera

November 4, 2010

Christie’s Auctions in London will be selling a complete Darth Vader costume from the Empire Strikes Back at a sale on November 25, 2010 of pop culture items. The costume is expected to sell for between $250,000 and $365,000. The previous owner is identified as an American collector and no reason was given as to why the collector wanted to sell this item.

Wait there’s more the Syfy Channel will be airing a new reality show called Hollywood Treasure.  The show deals with the work of Joe Maddalena, the owner of Profiles in History, a dealer of autographs, documents, photographs and Hollywood memorabilia.  Maddelena appeared on NBC’s Today Show and he talked about a few items that will appear in the show. These items include a golden ticket from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that came from one of the actors in the film, a sketch by Tim Burton for the Nightmare Before Christmas and the Holy Grail of pop culture collectibles, an Action Comic #1, the comic book that introduced the world to Superman.

Yet, the crank in me says “Wait a minute, don’t we have too much junk in our lives?” Shows like Hollywood Treasure encourage people to think that their ephemera is worth something, when chances are the do-dads are only worth what the person paid for them in 1990. As for the Darth Vader costume, other than using it as a Halloween costume, what will the winner of the auction do with it? A costume of one of the most famous villains in film history isn’t exactly an item you display in your living room. That is, unless your home is a shrine to all things Star Wars, then having it in your living room might work.

Then the pop culture aficionado in me says “Shut up crank!” Superman and Star Wars are as much a part of our culture as Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gadsby.  They aren’t just kids stuff. Items of pop culture are both a snapshot of their time and they look forward to the future. They deal with dreams, dealing with loss and finding your place in the world. So, is any wonder that there are people who are willing to spend lots of money to get their hands on an Action Comic #1 or a Darth Vader costume.

Take that crank!

Note: Any mention of auction houses or dealers of collectibles are mentioned for informational purposes only. They are not to be taken as an endorsement.

Sources:
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/39867573/ns/today-entertainment/?gt1=43001

http://www.ology.com/screen/hollywood-treasure-review

http://www.profilesinhistory.com/profiles-in-history.html