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Tag Archive: Auctions


Juliens LOTR auction

We previewed this week’s Julien’s auction here at borg.com last month.  It could go down as the best auction of The Lord of the Rings props and costumes ever sold at auction simply from four of its offerings and it may be the only chance this decade to get your hands on props from the Academy Award winning films. Called “The Trilogy Collection–Props and Costumes from Middle-Earth,” Julien’s is offering several items on the auction block this Thursday, December 5, 2013.

The key items being auctioned belong to a group of screen-used props that were given away as part of a Hasbro Toys/New Line Cinema contest to promote the release of the third LOTR installment, the 2003 Academy Award winning best picture The Return of the King.   Described as “one of eight main character props used heavily in The Lord of the Rings,” look for Aragorn’s sword, Frodo’s “Sting” sword, Eowyn’s sword, and Gimli’s battle axe, each expected to fetch prices ranging from $30,000 to $70,000, with Frodo’s sword expected to sell between $100,000 and $150,000.

Faramir helmet

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Kennedy and Superman

It’s a strange coincidence that 50 years after the death of President John F. Kennedy a controversy has surfaced involving a Superman comic book, President Kennedy, and original comic book art.  The controversy involves the original artist, Heritage Auctions, and an agreement made just after Kennedy’s death.

Heritage Auctions had initially planned to auction 10 pages of original artwork from Superman Issue #170 today in conjunction with the anniversary of the President’s assassination (along with several Dave Gibbons original cover art pages for Watchmen).  The auction house agreed to pull the lot in light of a lawsuit brought by 91-year-old artist Al Plastino, who claims that the original art was to be gifted to Boston’s Kennedy Library by DC Comics decades ago.

original Superman Kennedy page as published

The Superman comic book, which featured the story “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy” has its own interesting history.  Plastino was working on the Kennedy story art the day Kennedy died, and the project was halted until DC Comics got permission to issue the story to honor President Kennedy, authorized by President Lyndon Johnson himself.  The story involves Kennedy enlisting Superman in his initiative to get America’s youth physically fit.  It includes a full-page drawing of Superman waving to an image of Kennedy above the U.S. Capitol–the art that was to be sold at auction today.  The story was finally published in July 1964 with a note on its last page announcing the original art would be donated to the JFK Memorial Library at Harvard University.

original Superman Kennedy comic book art

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Juliens LOTR auction

It could go down as the best auction of The Lord of the Rings props and costumes ever sold at auction simply from four of its offerings.  Called “The Trilogy Collection–Props and Costumes from Middle-Earth,” Julien’s is offering several items on the auction block next month.  The key items being auctioned belong to a group of screen-used props that were given away as part of a Hasbro Toys/New Line Cinema contest to promote the release of the third LOTR installment, the 2003 Academy Award winning best picture The Return of the King.  Described as “one of eight main character props used heavily in The Lord of the Rings,” look for Aragorn’s sword, Frodo’s “Sting” sword, Eowyn’s sword, and Gimli’s battle axe, each expected to fetch prices ranging from $30,000 to $70,000, with Frodo’s sword expected to sell between $100,000 and $150,000.  These four pieces are the true headliners of the Julien’s auction, and by themselves would make for a great auction.  Although it raises the questions: Why didn’t these props get dispersed to fans in the sweepstakes, and if they were given away how did four of the props end up in the same place?

It’s because collector Troika Brodsky is selling his collection of four of the sweepstakes prizes he tracked down and bought from prizewinners discussed here.  He refers to the Frodo sword in the linked article as a stunt prop, based on wear and damage.  An interview about his entire collection being auctioned can be found here.

Aragorn sword

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Joker graffiti in Batman 1989

By C.J. Bunce

American Graffiti.  Just two weeks ago the George Lucas classic coming of age film about high school graduates in 1962 came back for the first national release in movie theaters in decades (we discussed it here at borg.com).  In a series of interconnected vignettes Lucas gave us a snapshot of kids and cars and cruising culture, popular then and now.  American Graffiti wasn’t the original title, and, as the story goes, the film’s backers had no idea what the title meant, but it was better than Another Quiet Night in Modesto or other proposals so they just went with it.  No graffiti actually plays into the plot, and the viewer can conceive his or her own meaning to this now classic movie title.

Graffiti as pop art?  Actual graffiti in America, in many ways hasn’t changed a lot, and it doesn’t share the same feelings of nostalgia as the eponymous film.  A form of vandalism, its very nature is something covert, rebellious and illegal.  Spray paint is the medium and the canvas is anything and everything from highway overpasses to train cars to building walls.  The stealth required gives the creator a challenge–maybe even the adrenaline rush that fuels some that are behind it.  Over the years the costs to city governments to wash or sand or scrub off graffiti prompted many cities to work with local graffiti artists–designating projects and mural locations where local creators could show off their creativity.  It’s a constructive bridging of law and order and a radical form of expression.

Iowa State Fair 2013 butter cow

A freshly cleaned up butter cow at the 2013 Iowa State Fair.

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DKR original cover art Issue 2

If you’ve any doubt which is more popular and influential–Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, or Alan Moore’s Watchmen–a coming original comic art auction may end the discussion once and for all.  Heritage Auctions is auctioning the cover to The Dark Knight Returns Issue #2, with pencils and inks by Frank Miller.  Only slightly less iconic than the stunning cover to Issue #1, the cover to Issue #2 took the world by storm, showing the classic superhero like he had never been seen before, not as heroic and stoic, but as grim and mean.

Back in February 2013 Heritage began to auction off the 1986 original art to all but one of twelve covers to Watchmen by Dave Gibbons.  The cover to Issue #1 fetched $155,350, Issue #2 sold for $38,837.50 and Issue #3 sold for $22,705.00.  Heritage’s magazine said the other covers will be sold in a coming auction.  However, in May 2011 an interior splash page of The Dark Knight Returns–Issue #3, page 10–also from 1986, sold for a whopping $448,125, as we reported here at borg.com.  That said, that page (shown below) was simply stunning.  Personally, this reader would rather have the interior page on the office wall than the Issue #2 cover, but cover art is cover art and interior art is interior art–covers sell for big bucks compared to interior pages.  And the cover to Issue #2 is arguably the defining image of the new grim Batman of the 1980s that survives to this day in the dozen+ monthly comic book titles and Christopher Nolan’s grim movie trilogy.

frank-miller-dark-knight-returns-record-winning-sale

Issue 3, Page 10 original Frank Miller/Klaus Janson splash page art that sold for almost a half-million dollars at auction in May 2011.

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intelligent-collector-marilyn-monroe issue

Heritage Auctions publishes a print version of a collectibles magazine called Heritage Magazine for The Intelligent Collector.  Each issue presents several collectors and their different collecting interests, including interviews with celebrity collectors like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Whoopi Goldberg.  Issues also highlight key items sold in past and future Heritage Auctions.  One issue previewed a superb collection of John Wayne memorabilia sold off by his estate.  The photo quality is beautiful and it’s a fun magazine to read, especially about areas of collecting that you’re not necessarily interested in.  It’s a bit like watching Antiques Roadshow on Public Television.  Subscriptions are $21 for 3 issues and the magazine is published three times per year.

This month’s print edition features a pull-out poster of Dave Gibbons’ original comic art cover pages for the original Watchmen series and a who’s who of the best comic book creators of all time.

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1966 Adam West Batmobile

This weekend the Batmobile from the original 1960s Batman series sold at auction for a whopping $4.62 million by the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company.

The original Batmobile began as a unique 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car built in Italy by Ford Motor Company, which was heavily modified by legendary customizer and car creator George Barris to become the original 1966 Batmobile in both the live action TV series, and the movie adaptation starring Adam West and Burt Ward.  George Barris reportedly bought the 1955 car for $1 back in 1966 and spent $15,000 in 15 days creating the final look for the car.  The Batmobile has a V-8 engine and functional instruments in the steering wheel, as well as a push-button transmission. Barris owned the car all these years, touring the car at conventions, and finally decided to let the car go in this weekend’s auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Rick Champagne, a Phoenix-area logistics company owner, placed the winning bid, saying he “really liked Batman growing up”.

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James Bond memorabilia auctioned off by Christie’s auction house yielded $2.6 million on October 5 and continuing online through October 8, 2012–“Global James Bond Day”–in an invitation-only charity event commemorating the British spy’s 50th anniversary on the silver screen and the release next month of the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall.  The auction took place at Christie’s auction house in London, and was attended by former Bond Roger Moore and the current M, Dame Judi Dench.  Bidders from more than forty countries also participated in online bidding.  At only 52 lots, a small number for a major entertainment or franchise auction, it was a pretty big haul.  Some high-end prop and costume buyers were in 007 heaven.  The catalog, available for download here, is one of the best film auction catalogs to date, and features at least one piece of screenused costumes, props, or rare books or marketing material from each Bond film.

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If you were married 50 years ago this time of year (and you know who you are), you’d be celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary–known as the Golden Anniversary.  James Bond, the British agent that never grows old throughout his film franchise also scores a Golden Anniversary this year as several companies celebrate his 50th year on the silver screen.  It’s not the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, but, hey, it’s close–and heck, she’s the Queen.  In a year of Olympics in London and British TV series making their mark overseas, it seems fitting that all things James Bond are big from now through the end of the year.

First up is “Global James Bond Day,” slated for October 5, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the London premiere of Dr. No, starring Sean Connery as the first actor to portray Bond, in the first of now 23 official Ian Fleming James Bond novel adaptations.  Although we’ve seen no nations making this a holiday or even a nationally recognized celebration, Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment all are partnering on this big marketing push leading to the release of Skyfall starring Daniel Craig, premiering November 9, 2012, in the U.S.A.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Passion Pictures and Red Box Films are also releasing a documentary about Ian Fleming and the men who made James Bond the largest movie franchise in film history.  Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 focuses on the individuals who have kept Bond fresh and alive with the changing times, Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.  Theater dates for the documentary have not yet been released.

Collectors of screen-used James Bond memorabilia will be happy to hear Christie’s will be auctioning off 50 lots tied to the franchise via an online and live auction charity event benefitting twelve charities (full details are at www.christies.com/bond).  Lot details will be released in September.

If you’re in London you can catch some of the most iconic items from the 007 movies displayed at the “Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style” exhibition at the Barbican center in London continuing through September 5, 2012.  If you’re not in London but are lucky enough to be living in or visiting Canada between October 26, 2012 and January 20, 2013, the Toronto International Film Festival and Bell Lightbox will be hosting its own spinoff of the London “Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style” event.

Exhibition highlights include the steel teeth worn by Richard “Jaws” Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me (1997); storyboards for Diamonds are Forever (1971);  the Anthony Sinclair overcoat worn by Sean Connery in Dr. No (1962);  the poker table from Casino Royale (2006); and multiple gadgets from Q Branch including the attaché case given to Bond in From Russia With Love (1963).

The preservationists of original Albert Broccoli’s EON Productions donated copies of each James Bond film–the New York Museum of Modern Art will be hosting its own Bond film retrospective this year.

Like Bond music like Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die?  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be hosting a “Music of Bond” night in Los Angeles later this year.  If you don’t live in L.A., you might want to know that the best single CD James Bond orchestral compilation of music ever created, Bond and Beyond, was recorded by the late, great Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops in 2002, and can still be found at Amazon.com and other online stores.

And those who saw the big Bond 50 booth at Comic-Con will already know that all 22 Bond films to date will be released for the first time in one Blu-Ray collection beginning September 24, 2012.  You can pre-order the Blu-Ray collection Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection for a discount off the release price now at Amazon.com and get a limited edition hardcover book including 50 years of Bond movie posters.  It will also be available in a standard DVD collection edition, also now at a pre-order discount at Amazon.com.

And borg.com is participating as well as we continue our “Retro reviews” of all the original James Bond novels, continuing later this week with Ian Fleming’s Moonraker.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Earlier this season Hollywood Treasure, Syfy Channel’s “reality” series about auction house Profiles in History, featured the Dreier family collection of screenused props, costumes and nostalgic toys.   Back in June we reported that the auction house had announced the first part of the Dreier collection would hit the auction block July 28.  Chad Dreier and son Doug had amassed a broad collection of costumes and props after Chad’s company Ryland Homes was successfully turned into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. The collection itself covers a lot of bases of primarily movies from 2000 onward, with some key pieces from the 1970s and 1980s.  Saturday the first part of the collection resulted in a few good buys but mainly showed that the economy is doing fine for those with a lot of money.

So how did the lots that borg.com projected as key pieces fare?

First off was an exquisite original Chewbacca head/mask from the original Star Wars.  It had an auction estimate of $60,000 to $80,000 and I expected this would sell for at least triple that. Profiles called this “the finest screen-correct Chewbacca costume head from the Star Wars trilogy known to exist.”  So was I right?  The sale price including fees was $172,200.  Almost three times the estimate.  But this was an exception as most items in the auction sold in-line with auction estimates.

The Dreiers appeared to purchase everything they could get their hands on related to Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from 1971. Their collection includes Wilder’s key outfit and hat and a bunch of lesser known but recognizable props and production ephemera. Wilder’s hat was expected to fetch between $20,000 and $30,000 and the costume $60,000 to $80,000.    The hat sold for $33,825  and the costume for $73,800.  An Oompa Loompa costume carried an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.  Selling for $30,750, it showed how popular these characters still are today.

A Bob Keeshan costume from the 1960s had an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.  It sold for $36,900.

An easily identifiable jacket of the type worn by Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller carried an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.  It sold for $36,900.

The Dreiers were also fans of Christopher Reeve’s Superman from 1978.  One of the hero Reeves suits expected to sell between $60,000 to $80,000.  It sold for $79,850.  We featured the rarer costume worn by his father Jor-El, played by the great Marlon Brando, in our Comic-Con coverage here.

It had the same estimate as the Reeve suit, and sold similarly at $73,800.  Both fell in line with expectations.

The auction catalog cover featured an original set of cylon armor from Battlestar Galactica.  The suit carried an auction estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  It sold for $46,125.

This outfit from the original series had an auction estimate of $12,000 to $15,000.  It sold for $17,220.

We also reported on this slick Wolverine costume in our Comic-Con coverage.  It had an estimate of $25,000 to $50,000 and sold for $49,200.

One sleeper item I noted was the original comic art for the Battlestar Galactica oversized comic book. With an estimate at only $2,000 to $3,000, I expected it to exceed $10,000.   Although it sold over its estimate, it didn’t make my prediction, selling at $4,305.

One other key piece sold at Profiles Saturday of note–a complete Star Trek: The Next Generation mannequin and costume of The Borg.  It was not ever for sale at auction before Profiles auctioned it in a recent auction of ex-Paley costumes, but was created by Michael Westmore’s actual production team for a museum collection once owned by The Paley Center.  It had an auction estimate of $8,000 to $12,000 and sold for just under $16,000.  I know of only three of these that are almost entirely complete and have heard a fourth example exists, but know of only one other complete from-head-to-toe version like this one.  These are the classic costumes of The Borg, not the later costumes that have deterioration problems and don’t look half as cool as these versions from “Best of Both Worlds” and “Descent”.  So it is awesome that one of these has surpassed prices for Star Trek captain uniforms, including, as in this auction, a Captain Picard costume worn by Patrick Stewart himself, which sold for $13,530.

Congratulations to the new owners of these great pieces of entertainment memorabilia!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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