Auctions | March 31, 2014

Orson Welles Treasure Trove, Consigned by Daughter to Heritage Auctions


NEW YORK—Beatrice Welles, the daughter of the late great director Orson Welles—auteur of Citizen Kane, commonly considered the greatest film ever made—is making a trove of material related to her famous father, never before offered to the public, available for auction as part of Heritage Auctions’ Entertainment Signature® Auction.

In all, there are more than 70 lots of Orson Welles-related ephemera, film memorabilia, clothing and personal accoutrements, including script pages and black and white film stills from Citizen Kane, scripts and still photos from The Magnificent Ambersons, a pair of personal scrapbooks relating to War of the Worlds, Welles’ 'Bell & Howard 240' 16mm Movie Camera, circa 1957, mainly used by Welles to film home movies while living in Spain in the 1950s, his personally-owned and used Smith-Corona 2200 electric typewriter, circa 1970s, his personal humidor, circa 1960s, gifted to him from director Michael Winner, who worked with Welles on the 1967 film Swinging London, documents from Welles’ famous Mercury Theatre, and a host of other material related  to Welles’ legendary career.

For Beatrice Welles, the daughter of the director and actress Paola Mori, putting the material up for auction represents a chance to open up the archives for fans of Orson Welles worldwide, giving them a chance to have something closely related to the great filmmaker, as well as a chance for her to re-connect with her father.

“These things were all in trunks in my parent’s house and garage after they both passed away,” said Welles. “After they died, I couldn’t stand to look at anything having to do with them—I was so close to them both. They were everything to me—and much of the stuff was just sitting on top of these two tables (Orson Welles) used as a desk. I said to a friend one day, ‘I can’t look at these things anymore. I also felt very much, that I was intruding into their private lives.”

That friend gathered the material in the house, went through the trunks in the garage, and put most of it away. 

“All of these things came with me wherever I moved to,” said Welles. “I finally decided to get a storage unit.”


That storage unit is where much of the material has lived until late 2012, when Welles finally went back and started to sort through it. What emerged is an incredible grouping that reflects just as much on Welles as a pioneering filmmaker as it does on him as a man and a father. 

“When I finally went and opened the trunk and started looking I realized that this is a treasure trove that I didn’t even know existed,” added Welles. “There were many things in there that I realized I needed to bring home—private letters, scripts, things he had from when he was a child, like essays from the ages of 10, 11 and 12. Those things I’m keeping. The rest of it, though, I realized would mean so much to someone else.”

Welles related that her father was not a materialistic man in any way, and that the fact that this trove exists is truly remarkable.

“He was so prolific,” she said, “always working on four or five different things at once. He was also a gypsy and he didn’t believe in keeping anything.  It’s really extraordinary that there is anything like this that exists.” 

For collectors of Hollywood history and film memorabilia, there is already a buzz being generated.

“This is not a chance that is going to come along again anytime soon,” said Margaret Barrett, Heritage’s Director of Entertainment Auctions. “Orson Welles is a Hollywood legend. His work continues to influence directors, writers and actors of all genres. This is an opportunity for many film lovers to have a piece of cinema royalty.”

Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $900 million, and 850,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit