1891 An Invitation to the Moulin Rouge
2014 SOLD for $ 390K including premium
Founded two years before, the famous Parisian cabaret wished to display its dynamism. The picture is perfect, with the tall serious guy in the foreground, the cancan dancing girl on the ring and the tight and joyful crowd as backdrop silhouettes.
The actress is named in the title : she is La Goulue. The slumming bourgeois is a local celebrity of Montmartre known by the nickname Valentin le Désossé.
The poster was first edited in large size, 189 x 114 cm in three joined sheets. A highly rare copy of the first version is for sale at Sotheby's in New York on October 30, lot 175 estimated $ 325K.
This advertising image was an immediate success that called for a second version of the same format, also in three sheets. The drawing is unchanged, but an additional text is inserted in the lower part to announce masked balls twice a week.
A copy of that second state, also very rare, has been discussed previously in this column. It was sold for $ 300K including premium by Swann on December 17, 2008.
1927 From Metropolis to King Kong
2012 SOLD 1.2 M$
The international poster for Metropolis, designed by Heinz Schulz-Neudamm, has survived in only four copies. In a typical Art Deco perspective, it expresses the power of the robot woman.
One of the four copies was purchased in 2005 in a private sale by a collector for $ 690K. Too ambitious, he was unable to repay a loan.
Nine pieces, movie posters and paintings, among the most important items of his collection are grouped as a single lot, with a starting price of $ 700K covered in advance by a buyer, in a court-ordered sale held on December 13 in Los Angeles by the United States Bankruptcy Court. Due to this unusual procedure for a sale of art, I will not catch the final result unless it is released to the press.
The poster for Metropolis is illustrated in the article by Hollywood Reporter.
The market for old movie posters at auction is flourishing. I will not mention all the nine pieces to be sold by the court, but another one is worth to be mentioned: a 1933 three sheet poster of King Kong.
Defined by the same summarized description, another King Kong original poster was sold for $ 390K including premium by Heritage just one week ago on a lower estimate of $ 80K. I have no way of knowing if it is the same version and the same size as the bankrupted poster. The Heritage copy measured 1 x 2 m.
POST SALE COMMENT
This lot was sold for $ 1.2 M. The Notice of sale indicated that the additional expense would not exceed $ 10K.
The poster for Metropolis is the star of this lot and it is legitimate to consider that the success of this sale is due to it for a very high proportion.
1927 London after Midnight
2014 SOLD for $ 480K including premium by Heritage
narrated in 2021
The storyline is inconsistent, but the scene in which Chaney prepares his vampire makeup for the purposes of his police investigation could have featured in the best anthologies of the seventh art. The film is unfortunately lost : the last copy was destroyed in a fire in 1965.
In the days of silent films, posters were used only for the programming in theaters. The only known copy of the color poster for the release by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer of London after Midnight surfaced 87 years later. Printed in lithograph on a One Sheet 70 x 105 cm, it had been carefully preserved and is graded Folded Very Fine +.
Chaney appears hilarious in the half-light behind Marceline Day in full light. He has the attributes of his signature scene : the beaver hat, shaggy white hair, eyes held in a hypnotic position by a prosthesis, the mouth widely opening onto the two rows of sharp teeth, the clawed fingers. The image is complemented in its lower part by a night scenery of the Thames under London Bridge.
This unique piece was sold by Heritage on November 22-23, 2014 for $ 480K including premium from an estimate of $ 80K, lot 86316. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1931 The Gaze of Dracula
2017 SOLD for $ 525K including premium
His success on stage helps him to obtain in 1931 the title role of the Dracula film presented by Carl Laemmle for Universal Pictures. Sound movie is still in an early phase. Lugosi's loud voice with a terrible Eastern European accent was undoubtedly important for the attribution of the role to him.
Posters had then a growing place in movie marketing. Four single-sheet types identified retroactively as Styles A, B, C, and F are printed for Dracula's first release. The images are very different from each other. A poster of the Style F terror scene was sold for $ 310K including premium by Heritage in March 2009. This type is known in three copies.
Style A is a close-up portrait of Lugosi. All the fascination is in the eyes. This beautiful image 68 x 104 cm without fantastic element might not have all the features to appeal the public. It is known in only two copies. One of them recently discovered is estimated $ 150K by Heritage in Dallas on November 18, lot 86267. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Universal's horror films were highly successful in 1931. A three-leaf poster for their Frankenstein was sold for $ 360K including premium by Heritage on March 28, 2015.
1931 Frankenstein trimmed in its own Success
2015 SOLD for $ 360K including premium
The masterpiece of the genre is Frankenstein, released in 1931, which offers all the features of this theme: a powerful and stupid but sentimental monster, a charming actress entered into his possession, a mad scientist in an odd lab.
Universal are also the distributors of their films. The level of attendance depends on the attractive force of the message offered outside the theater. The movie poster becomes an art in its own right with its shocking images that are more or less related to the plot of the film. When the theater's program changes, the poster is destroyed or kept without care waiting for a possible replay of the film.
It was a long time before the artistic qualities of these posters went to be recognized. The surviving posters of the best horror movies have become extremely rare.
On March 28 in Dallas, Heritage sells a poster printed for the release of Frankenstein. This is one of the two known versions of the three-leaf format 104 x 200 cm, and the only surviving copy of its style. It is in used condition, including trimmed edges. This piece is estimated over $ 100K, lot 86187.
Today all the glory of this film focuses on the monster played by Boris Karloff. It is interesting to note that at the debut the actors announced in larger letters were not Karloff but Colin Clive who played Frankenstein and the very young Mae Clarke who is nicely swooning on the poster.
1932 The Curse of Pharaoh
1997 SOLD for $ 450K including premium by Sotheby's
The audience of the 1930s loves the new movie monsters. In 1932 Universal Pictures and its producer Carl Laemmle perfectly master this new theme. To do even better (or worse, according to one's taste), the new film will be inspired by the curse of Tutankhamun. Karloff is famous for his making up in Frankenstein. He will play a mummy with a similar mixing of horror and emotion.
To promote this movie titled The Mummy, posters must shock. With the experience acquired in Dracula and Frankenstein, Universal excels in this new art. The crossed arms of the mummy are tight against its chest but the text announces that it comes to life. The ravaged face of Karloff here nicknamed The Uncanny is barely recognizable.
The original American poster of this film is a 104 x 69 cm one-sheet lithographic print on thin wove paper. Three examples survive.
One of these posters remains in a condition of splendid freshness, unbacked and framed. It was sold for $ 450K including premium by Sotheby's on March 1, 1997, a sensational price for a movie poster at that time.
It is estimated $ 1M for sale by Sotheby's as the single lot number 1 in an online auction that ends cleverly on Halloween day, October 31. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
1933 King Kong Style B
2012 SOLD for $ 390K including premium by Heritage
narrated in 2020
The Style B poster is much rarer. While Style A showcases the power of the monster, Style B expresses an unsurpassed aggressiveness : Kong shows in profile his terrible fangs while holding the unconscious beauty queen in his elbow. It also includes in secondary images Kong's struggle against a dinosaur and the skyscrapers of New York.
Two copies of Style B in 100 x 200 cm format from three assembled sheets were sold by Heritage. Both are in Very Fine + condition.
One of them was mounted on a gray-blue linen which was in use in Europe at that time. It was sold for $ 390K including premium on November 30, 2012, lot 83252. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The other copy, also mounted on linen, was sold for $ 336K including premium on November 21, 2020, lot 86182.
Wikimedia indicates that this artwork is in the public domain because it had not been copyrighted.
1933 King Kong Movie Poster
2020 SOLD for $ 336K including premium by Heritage
A detail is shown on the tweet below.
#HERITAGELIVE: Only once before have we have the privilege and pleasure of selling this one-sheet for 1933's "King Kong." Today we part with this masterpiece advertising a masterpiece for an extraordinary $336,000. □https://t.co/c8cWVmHlMo#AuctionUpdate #KingKong #Movies pic.twitter.com/sCirmhfgW9— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) November 21, 2020
1934 Poster for Dream and Nightmare
2009 SOLD 335 K$ including premium
Start with the nightmare. In 1934, Universal Studios already accumulated more than ten years of success in horror movies. The originality of that year is to highlight two star actors, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, in a film that was titled "The Black Cat".
And now the dream (of any collector): the poster of this film for sale by Heritage Auctions in Dallas on November 13was a model not listed so far, and it is in excellent condition (near mint +) .
The black cat, whose eyes and whiskers shine, is walking between the faces of the two actors. The design is beautiful and expressive, typical of that period. This sheet about 70 x 100 cm is immaculate, without even the trace of a pinhole.
It comes from a prestigious collection, the same as The Mummy (1932) that sold for $ 450K including premium by Sotheby's on March 1, 1997. For the Black Cat, Heritage is taking little risk in announcing an estimate of 250 K$. It is well known that the rarest pieces in perfect condition can expect that price.
The image of that lot is shared by Antique News.
POST SALE COMMENT
The sale is successful for this exceptional poster: 335 K $ including premium.
1942 Casablanca within Quote Marks
2020 SOLD for $ 384K including premium
Advertising now needs large formats, which are often kept on linen. One of the larger ones is in six sheets for a total size of 205 x 205 cm. It was made to announce a program in the theaters and surviving copies are extremely rare.
The romantic couple occupy the main position, underlined by a string of secondary characters. The image sharpness is excellent and the colors are bright.
The original drawing has a special characteristics. The title Casablanca appears in red, at an angle in the lower part. It is inserted between a red and a white quotation marks. Perhaps this is not a mistake : the white mark is very well pairing with the collar and shoulder pads of the German officer.
A copy in VF- condition with both original marks was sold for $ 108K including premium by Heritage on March 24, 2013. A copy in Very Fine condition whose right mark was airbrushed in red during a restoration is estimated $ 150K for sale by Heritage in Dallas on November 21, lot 86087.
The release of the film in other countries brings other examples of large format with other images. An Italian poster printed in 1946, 140 x 200 cm in three sheets, was sold for $ 480K including premium by Heritage on July 29, 2017. A French poster 118 x 160 cm printed in 1947 was sold for $ 240K including premium by Heritage on November 19, 2017.
1946 Italian Realism for Casablanca
2017 SOLD for $ 480K including premium
Although such works are ephemeral by nature, Martinati creates posters of high quality. He shows the stars in close-up with an expressive realism. Moviegoers appreciate this believable truth without complacency that does not erase the imperfections of the faces and the dark circles under the eyes.
Released in 1942 in the United States, Casablanca produced by Warner Bros. meets the new expectations of the public by mixing suspense and emotion within a contemporary story. Spectators recognize their own hopes and uncertainties in the starring couple played by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Casablanca is finally released in Italy in 1946. The numerous posters realized by Martinati for this movie are considered as his masterpieces. On July 29 in Dallas, Heritage sells a poster on linen of large format 140 x 200 cm 4-fogli in fine to very fine condition which is the only known copy in its variant. It is estimated in excess of $ 180K, lot 86354.