Tag Archive: Heritage Auctions

Coming in at about the same price as the actor’s screen-used prop blaster from Return of the Jedi this summer (discussed here at borg), Harrison Ford proved again he is #1 among pop culture and entertainment memorabilia collectors.  At Prop Store‘s entertainment memorabilia live auction in London yesterday, called Treasures from Film and Television (which we previewed from San Diego Comic-Con here in July), one of the fedoras worn by ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark brought record bids for a prop from the franchise, taking in an estimate of between $522,500 and $558,000, including fees and taxes.  Ford’s Han Solo blaster sold in June for $550,000 (before tax).  The hammer price for the hat was £320,000 when the winning bid was placed and the hammer struck, or about $424,755.  Provenance for this hat was not provided by Prop Store in its catalog, but the company said it could be screen-matched through identifying marks to several key scenes in the movie.  An Indy bullwhip from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom sold for $74,460, including buyer’s premium, at the auction.

One of the other auction lots worn by Ford was supposed to be the crown jewel of the auction, a simple stylized blue jacket worn in The Empire Strikes Back said to have been screen-matched to the film’s Cloud City scenes.  Although it was expected to garner $660,000 to $1.3 million, bidders were just not willing to push bids past the $600,000 mark and the seller’s minimum reserve price.  The jacket was one of the only hero costume pieces from the original trilogy to be offered at public auction.

This week’s big star prop of the Prop Store auction was crowded among other Hollywood props on display at San Diego Comic-Con this past July.

Several other key props from the four corners of genredom sold in excess of six figures (including buyer’s premium and net of taxes) in yesterday’s auction.  A light-up T-800 endoskeleton from Terminator II: Judgment Day (1991) fetched a massive price of $326,500.  A Christopher Reeve costume from Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) sold for $212,200.  A Hayden Christensen Anakin Skywalker lightsaber from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005) sold for $180,000 and an Ian McDiarmid Emperor lightsaber from the film sold for $114,000.  A background First Order Stormtrooper helmet from Star Wars: The Last Jedi surprised everyone, selling for a whopping $180,000.  A Johnny Depp costume from Edward Scissorhands (1990) sold for $106,100.  Of several original comic book art pages that sold, the star was Page 15 from The Amazing Spider-Man (1966), Issue #32, by artist Steve Ditko, which fetched $155,000.

More than two dozen other memorable props and costumes from sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, and horror classics fared well (prices quoted include pre-tax conversion from British pound, including buyer’s premium):
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Green Lantern 76 Adams

Every year something exciting makes its way to public auction.  Back in 2011 we discussed some great art from The Dark Knight Returns here at borg.com and again in 2013 here we discussed more cover art from The Dark Knight Returns hitting the market as well as some Dave Gibbons Watchmen cover art.  In December 2015, one of the most iconic covers of the Silver Age hit the auction block courtesy of Heritage Auctions.  That cover was Neal Adams’ original cover art to Green Lantern Issue #76 (learn more about it here), the book that launched the Bronze Age of comics in the minds of many historians, and the beginning of the “Hard-Traveling Heroes” story arc that forever re-defined Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow, and Dinah Lance’s Black Canary.

So what was the total paid, the auction hammer price including fees, for the cover art?

A whopping $442,150.  The twist on this auction is that in the 1970s, most original comic art was not returned to the artists, as has generally been done since then.  So many artists, including Neal Adams, have renounced the possession and sale of such pieces as “stolen”.  But this seller made a deal with Adams to share in the proceeds (with a cut for the charity The Hero Initiative), and so Adams agreed to endorse the sale with this comment:

“Since the proprietor of the cover has agreed to equitably share the income of the auction with me and my family I hereby validate sale and ownership of this piece and I will, in fact, supply a Certificate of Authenticity to the highest bidder of the auction, and the ownership of this cover will never be questioned by me.  This sharing of profit with the creator, of the sale of artwork produced back in those days when ownership has ever been in question, will in this case and may in all cases go far in bringing underground artwork into the light of a fair and open marketplace.”
For everyone who wasn’t that winning bidder, on shelves now at your local comic book store and via Amazon.com here is a deluxe hardcover edition of the entire Green Lantern/Green Arrow story by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams.  It’s a great full-color reading copy and reference.

Check out a high definition copy of the original cover art for Green Lantern Issue #76 that sold this past year:

The art without logos:

GL76 The reverse of the artwork:

GL76 backThe artwork with overlay logos and word balloons:

Original Green Lantern Green Arrow 76 cover art Neal Adams

C.J. Bunce

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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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.


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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Heritage Auctions will feature 750 lots of personal property of western movie star John Wayne October 6-7, 2011 in Los Angeles.  After Wayne died in 1979 all of his personal property was tagged and inventoried.  In the 1990s John Wayne’s sons purchased costumes from Western Costume Company in Los Angeles, further building up the Wayne estate collection.  Finally, ten years ago son Ethan began planning this auction.

Wayne used several hats, shirts, belts and props in several of his movies.  His productions also owned multiples of each costume and prop, just as production studios do today.  So what is featured are some of these costumes and props, and undoubtedly most if not all of them got screen use in one or more films.  Several costumes come from Wayne’s final role as Rooster Cogburn from True Grit, including one of his eye patches.

Also being auctioned are John Wayne’s one-of-a-kind personal, hand-notated scripts, including the script to Stagecoach, Angel and the Badman, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio Lobo, and The Sons of Katie Elder.  Personal property being auctioned includes several stylized cowboy boots, used both in his personal life and in films, as well as countless belts and buckles, cowboy hats, and his own custom horse saddle, expected to garner between $40,000-60,000.

The vast majority of the auction will feature less exciting but interesting items, such as personal trunks and clothing, letters from other movie stars and presidents, and awards including Wayne’s Golden Globe award.

More obscure but also interesting is a collection of western prints created by Andy Warhol.

Although some of the best John Wayne costumes have been auctioned in previous Heritage, Profiles in History and other auctions, including the recent sale of Wayne’s iconic uniform from She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, this is the first time so many John Wayne items have been featured in a single auction.

Key lots include:

John Wayne’s blue “bib shirt” worn by Wayne as Tom Doniphon is John Ford’s classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, where Wayne played opposite James Stewart and Lee Marvin.  Wayne made this shirt famous, featuring it in several of his classic westerns.  He wore this style shirt in several other films including The Sons of Katie Elder, and he may have worn this shirt in one or more of those films as well.  This shirt is expected to sell between $6,000-$8.000.  Undoubtedly this is a very low estimate of the likely winning bid, which will easily exceed $10,000.

John Wayne’s marine uniform from Sands of Iwo Jima, where Wayne portrayed the tough as nails Sergeant John M. Stryker.  “Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.”  This costume is expected to sell between $20,000-$25,000.

A cavalry hat worn by Wayne in the films The Horse Soldiers, Circus World, The Undefeated, and Rio Lobo.  Expected to sell between $30,000-$40,000.

More information on the auction can be found at the Heritage Auction website page for this auction.

C.J. Bunce



Starting Monday, September 12, Heritage Auctions will be holding an auction in Beverly Hills, from the estate of comic art and rare book collector Jerry Weist, who passed away on Jan. 7 of this year.  Weist published the Comic Art Price Guides discussed here earlier.

The sale includes science fiction and fantasy art, rare first-edition books, movie posters, fanzines, pulp magazines, and comic books, many in high grades.  Weist was known as a collector with access to writers and artists and he was able to amass a unique collection of rarities.  His collection was formed by replacing prior copies of works with better condition copies, resulting in some very fine examples of first edition genre books.

Included are one of a kind artworks by Frank Frazetta, J. Allen St. John, Frank R. Paul, Wally Wood, Virgil Finlay, Alex Schomburg, Chesley Bonestell, Richard Powers, Frank Kelly Freas, Donato Giancola, and many more paintings by top genre artists.

The featured art includes this 1996 Frank Frazetta work that was used as a cover to a paperback Ray Bradbury short story collection.  Titled Tomorrow Midnight, it is estimated to sell between $40-60,000.

At the top of this article is Donato Giancola’s Stars Blue Yonder, a paperback cover painting, expected to sell for $4,000-6,000.

Vincent di Fate’s Future at War, also used for a paperback book, is another stunning piece being auctioned.

The original cover art to Weird Fantasy #17, drawn by Al Feldstein, is expected to sell for more than $18,000, and is a pristine example of early 1950s comic art.

The volume of key science fiction and fantasy books include many first editions, inscribed copies by major authors, including H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Connie Willis, and Philip K Dick.

Also for sale are pulp magazines, comic books, 1950s science-fiction movie posters, and fanzines.

The auction will be held at Heritage’s Beverly Hills offices on Sept. 12.  See this link to Heritage Auctions for more details.

C.J. Bunce



With the barrage of comic book movies re-emerging into the mainstream, starting with Jon Favreau’s Iron Man in 2008, and continuing through this summer with Thor, X-Men, Green Lantern and Captain America, comic books as an overlooked niche may be having it’s own renaissance.  With the focus of DC Comics in returning to its roots by recharging its universe starting Wednesday, August 31, comic books are making national news as a popular medium again.

No greater indication of comic books coming of age this year occured at a Heritage Auctions sale a few weeks ago.  In its New York Signature Vintage Comics and Comic Art Auction #7033, fifteen bidders duked it out to determine the single most expensive piece of American original comic art to sell at auction.

So which artist, what book, what publisher scored the biggest single page hit ever?

In part, the record breaking sale came as a surprise.  This was no golden age book from the 1940s.  Neither was it an early rarity at the dawn of comic strips, like the Katzenjammer Kids, Keystone Cops or the Yellow Kid.  It also wasn’t a piece of cover art–in original comic art collecting it is the cover that typically fetches a far higher price than interior work.  Neither was it a classic science fiction comic, a Charles Schulz Peanuts page, or a Superman page.  But it did come from DC Comics.  Something to remember: only in recent years has comic book art been actively collected.  Many early pages were thrown away or lost.  Ask old time artists about their original pages at conventions and they will shake their head and tell you stories about their long gone pages.  Unlike rare comic books, there is only one original art page in existence, so these works are true rarities.

The object of the highest hammer price probably should come as no surprise.  It is from one of the most talked about comic book series in the past 30 years.  From a book that has been studied by economists and even used as a required text book at state universities.

The book of course is the ground-breaking Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pencils by Frank Miller with Klaus Janson inks.  It is a splash page from issue #3, page 10.  And it sold for $448,125 including the auction house buyer’s premium.

Don’t you wish you had one of the several dozen remaining pages from the four book Batman: The Dark Knight Returns series right now?

The cover of the book featuring the record breaking page:

The last public sale record was set only last year, for the comic book cover of EC title Weird Science-Fantasy #29 by the great Frank Frazetta.  It sold for $380,000.

Frank Miller is now known not only as a controversial but popular comic book writer and artist, he is also the man behind major motion pictures, including 300, Sin City, and The Spirit.  Inker Klaus Janson is the German expatriot who has worked with countless major pencillers and set the standard all inkers aspire to, and he wrote the book on inking, The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics


as well as The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics.  (I am a big fan of the entire DC Comics Guide series and every beginning comic artists aspiring to make a ground breaking page like Miller’s and Janson’s should check these out).

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns has been re-printed numerous times since its release as four prestige format comics in 1986.  The page itself features of course Batman, but also his controversial new sidekick introduced in the 1986 mini-series: a female Robin and considered the fourth Robin in the history of the caped crusader.  The page is a full spread or “splash page” showing the dynamic duo swinging across the skyline of Gotham City.  The Dark Knight Returns is a dystopian tale of Bruce Wayne, who emerges after retiring from the hero business and spending his days as a more stereotypical billionaire, including enjoying the fun of race car driving.  In the book he looks just like Paul Newman, as Newman looked in the 1980s.  The edge that we then saw in 1989’s summer blockbuster Batman starring Michael Keaton derives directly from this series, as does the darkness and grittiness behind every comic book series since.  Frank Miller and Company also revisited the Dark Knight story in the far less popular sequel Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again.

When Miller was asked about the imminent sale of the record-winning piece, he commented, “I’ve always loved that drawing…Danced around my studio like a fool when I drew it.  I hope it finds a good home.”

As several Batman series begin again this week, which series will become the next The Dark Knight Returns?

C.J. Bunce



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