Animation Art Sale Tops $2.9 Million at Heritage Auctions

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Storyboard Art by Gustav Tenggren (Walt Disney, 1937) sold for $18,000.

Dallas – A painting from the halls of the Haunted Mansion in New Orleans and a trove of work by iconic Disney artist Mary Blair helped make Heritage Auctions’ Animation Art Auction the largest such auction of all time, with sales totaling $2,965,596 Dec. 13-15 in Beverly Hills, California.

The total smashed the previous record of $2,068,451, achieved by Heritage Auctions in June 2019. The result of this sale, Heritage’s June Animation Art Auction that sold a total of $2,068,451, the Mickey Mouse and Friends – the Animation Art Internet Auction that brought $144,095, as well as the animation art lots that sold in the weekly comics online auctions led to the best year ever in animation art sales, with totals exceeding $6 million.

“This was a phenomenal auction, the biggest ever held, covering three days and featuring 1,838 lots,” Heritage Auctions Animated Art Director Jim Lentz said. “Animation art, especially Disney art, is in extremely high demand, and it showed in the results from this three-day sale.”

“Haunted Mansion” Stretching Room Disneyland Painting (Walt Disney, 1969) prompted bids from 16 collectors before more than doubling its pre-auction estimate when it finished at $57,600. The lot is one of four historic paintings for the mansion designed by Disney Legend Inductee and one of Disney’s original “Nine Old Men,” Marc Davis, hand-painted between 1969 and 1972. The paintings were designed to be used in the elevator/stretching rooms for a period of six months, and then replaced. This painting, depicting the Elderly Widow sitting across her husband’s tombstone, is one of the rarest original hand-painted stretching room paintings ever brought to market and is considered one of the most identifiable pieces of Disneyland Park original art.

The auction included 40 lots from Mary Blair, who is identified regularly as Walt Disney’s favorite artist, including the largest “It’s A Small World” art collection ever brought to auction. Among the top lots by Blair in the sale were:

    •    Mary Blair Alice in Wonderland Tulgey Wood Signpost Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1951): $42,000
    •    Mary Blair Cinderella Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1950): $36,000
    •    Mary Blair Alice in Wonderland Original Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1951):  $36,000
    •    Mary Blair Alice in Wonderland Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1951):  $36,000
    •    Mary Blair “It's a Small World” Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1964): $33,600
    •    Mary Blair Peter Pan Wendy and the Mermaids Concept/Color Key Painting (Walt Disney, 1953): $33,600
    •    Mary Blair “It's a Small World” Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1964/66): $33,600

The first animation auction to span three days featured a spectacular collection from what has been called the lots from the Disney’s Golden Age of Animation that helped bring film animation back to its highest levels, including:

    •    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Snow White Production Cel on Master Production Background (Walt Disney, 1937):  $33,600
    •    Mother Goose Goes Hollywood Production Cel Signed to Groucho Marx by Walt Disney Courvoisier Setup (Walt Disney, 1938) $33,600
    •    Pinocchio Concept Painting by Gustaf Tenggren (Walt Disney, 1940) $33,600
    •    Fantasia Mickey Mouse as The Sorcerer's Apprentice Production Cel on Master Production Background (Walt Disney, 1940): $22,800

The top Snow White lot was one of 84 that sold in the sale, underscoring the support and demand for vintage art. Other Snow White favorites in the sale included:
    •    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Snow White Bashful and Sneezy Production Cel and Key Master Background (Walt Disney, 1937): $19,200
    •    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Storyboard Art by Gustav Tenggren (Walt Disney, 1937): $18,000
    •    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Production Cel with Courvoisier Background (Walt Disney, 1937): $13,200

The sale included 102 lots from the personal collection of the late animator Revalee “Rev” Chaney, a collection that brought more than $125,000. The artwork in the Chaney trove dates back to the 1940s, when Warner Bros. animation art was exceptionally rare. Among the top lots from Chaney’s collection in the auction were:

    •    Baseball Bugs Bugs Bunny and Gas House Gorilla Production Cels Group of 2 (Warner Brothers, 1946): $9,600
    •    Hair Ribbin'/Daffy's Southern Exposure Bugs Bunny and Dog Production Cel setup on Production Background (Warner Brothers, 1944/42): $5,880
    •    Buckaroo Bugs/Jack Wabbit and the Beanstalk Bugs Bunny Production Cel on Production Background (Warner Brothers, 1945/1943): $5,520
    •    Stage Door Cartoon Bugs Bunny Production Cels Group of 2 (Warner Brothers, 1944): $4,560
    •    The Heckling Hare Bugs Bunny and Willoughby Concept/Layout Drawing (Warner Brothers, 1941): $4,560

Two lots set new records for signed Walt Disney memorabilia, when a Mother Goose Goes Hollywood Production Cel Signed to Groucho Marx by Walt Disney Courvoisier Setup (Walt Disney, 1938) yielded $33,600 and a Walt Disney-Signed Letter on Fantasia Letterhead (Walt Disney, 1941) brought $15,600, while Bugs Bunny Studio Model Drawing by Rev Chaney (Warner Brothers, 1940s) set a record for the most paid for vintage Warner Brothers artwork when it finished at $1,440.

The auction even got caught up in the spirit of the season. Holiday-themed lots capturing the interest and bids of eager collectors included, but were not limited to:

    •    Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Grinch and Max Production Cel Setup and Key Master Background (MGM, 1966): $22,800
    •    Peanuts A Charlie Brown Christmas Snoopy Steals Linus' Blanket Production Cel (Bill Melendez, 1965): $12,600
    •    The Nightmare Before Christmas Santa and Jack Skellington Storyboard Drawing by Jorgen Klubien (Touchstone/Walt Disney, 1993): $4,800
    •    Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington Concept Art (Touchstone/Walt Disney, 1993): $4,080
    •    Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas Blue-Eyed Grinch Production Cel (MGM, 1966): $4,080
    •    Pluto's Christmas Tree Mickey Mouse Production Cel Setup with Key Master Background (Walt Disney, 1952): $1,440

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